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Thousands Gather For Opposition Rally In Kyiv

About 10,000 people have gathered in Kyiv's Independence Square for the first major opposition protest rally of the new year.

The massive protests in Kyiv's main square were triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych's decision in late November to shelve a deal on closer ties with the European Union.

At the January 5 event, opposition leaders urged their supporters to continue the protests after public holidays this week to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas.

Protesters have also camped out since late November on Independence Square, where they have erected makeshift barricades.

Yanukovych's decision was taken under apparent pressure from Russia, which later offered Ukraine $15 billion in loans and slashed the price Ukraine pays for Russian natural-gas imports.

Based on reporting by AFP and RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service