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Live Blog: Ukraine Rallies Continue

Pro-government and antigovernment demonstrators are holding competing rallies in Kyiv today.


Massive Crowds Attend Opposition Rally In Kyiv
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Massive Crowds Attend Opposition Rally In Kyiv

Highlights

Wrapup:

-- For the third Sunday in a row, the opposition held a massive rally on Kyiv's Independence Square (the Maidan), which protesters have occupied since December 1. Some 200,000 people attended.

---- The government also organized an "anti-Maidan" rally for supporters of President Viktor Yanukovych and the current government. An estimated 15,000 people gathered -- many of them bused in from eastern regions.

-- EU Commissionar for Enlargement Stefan Fule has said negotiations with Ukraine have been put on hold. He said the Ukrainian government's arguments "have no grounds in reality." A spokesman for Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, however, said Ukraine would continue holding talks on the EU deal.

-- U.S. Senator John McCain spoke to protesters on Independence Square, promising "The free world is with you, America is with you, and I am with you."

-- Glenn Kates


15:54 15.12.2013
Video of McCain's speech.

McCain To Ukraine: 'America Stands With You'
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15:45 15.12.2013
Robert Shlegel, a parliamentary deputy from Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, says, "In response to Join McCain coming to 'Euromaidan,' Vladimir Zhirinovsky can come to the anti-Maidan [rally]. The world must be in equilibrium."

Zhirinovsky is the nationalist leader of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party. He has said the protests in Kyiv are being driven by "alcoholics and drug addicts, as well as pro-Westernizers, spies, and provocateurs."

15:32 15.12.2013
15:28 15.12.2013
Independence Square, quickly becoming a mini-city of its own, now offers Wi-Fi and charging stations.

15:23 15.12.2013
14:50 15.12.2013
The third of the major opposition leaders, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, of Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkvyshchyna party, says:

"We must work with you as it is written on one of the placards here: 'On Maidan, a cold mind, nerves of steel, and a warm heart.'"

14:44 15.12.2013
Earlier, Vitali Klitschko, leader of the UDAR (Punch) party spoke:

"Without a change in authorities, we cannot change the rules of the game," he said. "We demand a full reset and here on the Maidan, with peaceful actions, we will seek early parliamentary and presidential elections."
14:37 15.12.2013
Tyahnybok is leader of the nationalist Svoboda party and one of the three main opposition leaders.


He goes on to say that the pulling down of a monument to Vladimir Lenin last Sunday is like the fall of the Berlin Wall.
14:21 15.12.2013
The Russian press has been harshly critical of the 'Euromaidan' movement and Dmitry Kiselyov has been the lead antagonist. Kiselyov was appointed last week to lead a new news agency that will replace RIA Novosti.

14:01 15.12.2013
McCain speaking to crowd on Independence Square:

"The destiny you seek lies in Europe. Ukraine will make Europe better and Europe will make Ukraine better. To all Ukrainians, America stands with you."

"Thank you, USA," crowd chants.

McCain: "Thank you for your service in war and for your present mission in peace. Can I ask our Afghantsi [former fighters from war in Afghanistan] to raise their hand so I can salute them. Let me also say to the many young police officers here in the Maidan. We respect your service and patriotism and we ask that you always be guided by your duty to protect your fellow citizens. People of Ukraine, this is your moment. This is about you -- no one else. This is about the future you want for your country, this is about the future you deserve. A future in Europe. A future of peace and good relations with all of your neightbors.

"The free world is with you, America is with you, and I am with you."

"Thank you, Thank you," the crowd chants.

McCain: "May you forever be guided by the words of your great poet, Taras Shevchenko. 'Love your Ukraine, love her in cruel times, love her in tough moments, pray to God for her.' Thank you and God bless."

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