Thousands of anti-government protesters rally in Ukraine
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Several thousand government protesters rallied outside Ukraine’s parliament Tuesday and some urged President Petro Poroshenko to step down.
Former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, who leads a Ukrainian opposition party, said at the rally that Poroshenko was responsible for “poverty and humiliation.”
“I’m calling on the people of Kiev to join us and demand just one thing: that Poroshenko think about his resignation,” Saakashvili said.
Protest organizers are demanding changes to Ukraine’s election laws to encourage competition. They also want an anti-corruption high court established and say lawmakers should be stripped of immunity from criminal prosecution.
The crowd of protesters that numbered more than 3,000 in the morning dwindled to a few hundred in the late afternoon. Some of those remaining set up tents in front of the parliament building and vowed to continue protesting until the demands are met.
Saakashvili poses a political challenge to Poroshenko, who appointed him as governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region after Saakashvili was termed out of office in Georgia.
They since have had a falling out. The president revoked Saakashvili’s citizenship in July. Saakashvili forced his way across Ukraine’s border with Poland last month.
Saakashvili has teamed up with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other opposition groups, raising the heat on Poroshenko.