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Some 20,000 protest in Ukraine's Kiev

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 29, 2013 at 10:32 a.m.

pro-european-union-activists-gather-in-independence-square-in-kiev-ukraine-sunday-dec-29-2013-about-20000-people-protested-in-ukraines-capital-on-sunday-maintaining-more-than-a-month-of-rallies-opposing-the-governments-decision-to-shelve-a-key-deal-with-the-european-union-ap-photosergei-chuzavkov

Pro-European Union activists gather in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. About 20,000 people protested in Ukraine’s capital on Sunday, maintaining more than a month of rallies opposing the government’s decision to shelve a key deal with the European Union. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

KIEV — About 20,000 people protested in Ukraine's capital on Sunday, maintaining more than a month of rallies opposing the government's decision to shelve a key deal with the European Union.

But the turnout on a clear, cold day was markedly lower than at previous rallies, which had attracted hundreds of thousands of people.

As it has before, Sunday's rally opened with speeches by the country's spiritual leaders, including Christian priests, a rabbi and a mufti who called for a national unity and stressed the protesters' right to have the government they want.

Oleh Tyahnybok, head of the opposition national party Svoboda notorious for his racist rhetoric, emphasized that Ukrainians in the west and the east should unite to fight for their rights.

"We are all Ukrainians and want our fair demands to be met," he said in his speech.

The demonstrations were sparked by President Viktor Yanukovych's decision last month to spike the EU deal in favor of closer ties with Russia. The move angered many Ukrainians, who hoped that closer ties with the EU would help end centuries of Russia's domination.

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