Protesters Defying Anti-Rally Laws Clash with Riot Police in Kiev

World | January 19, 2014, Sunday // 18:41
Bulgaria: Protesters Defying Anti-Rally Laws Clash with Riot Police in Kiev Photo by EPA/BGNES

Hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police in Kiev on Sunday in a rally opposing new laws aimed at stamping out anti-government demonstrations.

Up to 100 000 Ukrainians gathered Sunday in the center of the Ukrainian capital to vent their anger at the passage of harsh anti-protest legislation.

Last week, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich approved a controversial batch of laws banning unsanctioned gatherings and imposing restrictions on mass demonstrations, civic activism and free speech.

The laws, approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday, were denounced by opposition leaders, who described them as unconstitutional, while US and EU officials expressed deep concern at the new legislation, according to reports of the BBC News.

Although Sunday's rally began peacefully, clashes erupted as demonstrators heading for parliament encountered cordons set up by police.

Police used tear gas and smoke bombs in a bid to disperse the protesters seeking to storm the police cordon near the Verkhovna Rada.

The series of mass protests was triggered by President Yanukovych's last-minute rejection of an EU deal under heavy pressure from Russia in November.

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Tags: Kiev, pro-EU protests, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian President, Verkhovna Rada, Independence square
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