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Ukrainian opposition presses with massive rally

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 15, 2013 at 10:22 a.m.

pro-european-union-activists-gather-during-a-rally-in-independence-square-in-kiev-ukraine-sunday-dec-15-2013-about-200000-anti-government-demonstrators-converged-on-the-central-square-of-ukraines-capital-sunday-a-dramatic-demonstration-that-the-oppositions-morale-remains-strong-after-nearly-four-weeks-of-daily-protests-ap-photosergei-grits

Pro-European Union activists gather during a rally in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. About 200,000 anti-government demonstrators converged on the central square of Ukraine’s capital Sunday, a dramatic demonstration that the opposition’s morale remains strong after nearly four weeks of daily protests. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

KIEV — About 200,000 anti-government protesters converged on the central square of Ukraine's capital Sunday in a dramatic show of morale after nearly four weeks of daily protests, but the rally was shadowed by suggestions that their goal of closer ties with Europe may be imperiled.

A much smaller demonstration of government supporters, about 15,000, was taking place less than a mile away from Kiev's Independence Square. Anti-government protesters have set up an extensive tent camp there and erected barricades of snow hardened with freezing water and studded with scrap wood and other junk.

U.S. Sens. John McCain and Chris Murphy joined the anti-government demonstration to express support for them and their European ambitions, threatening sanctions against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych if authorities use more violence to disperse the protests.

The protests began Nov. 21 after Yanukovych announced he was backing away from signing a long-awaited agreement to deepen trade and political ties with the EU and instead focus on Russia, and have grown in size and intensity after two violent police dispersals.

In the face of the protests, which present a serious challenge to Yanukovych's leadership, Ukrainian officials this week renewed talks with the EU agreement and promised that they would sign the deal once some issues are worked out.

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