More than 2,000 Rally in Kiev to Support Jailed Tymoshenkoإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Over 2,000 people gathered in Kiev on Saturday to protest against the regime of President Viktor Yanukovych and express support for jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been moved to a hospital.
The protestors called their rally an "opposition congress" that gathered several opposition parties on a central square in the capital in support of Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year jail term after a disputed verdict.
"Freedom for Ukraine! Freedom for Yulia!" shouted Olexander Turchinov, Tymoshenko's aide and deputy head of her party.
Ukraine's opposition leaders unveiled a plan of action ahead of October parliamentary elections that the West sees as a litmus test for the authorities following criticism over their increasingly undemocratic approach.
"First on our agenda (after the parliamentary polls) has to be freeing the political prisoners, including Tymoshenko," said a deputy from another opposition party, Vyacheslav Kirilenko.
The Ukrainian authorities moved the 51-year-old opposition leader, who suffers from debilitating back pain, from jail to a hospital in Ukraine's second city Kharkiv on Wednesday. She had accused prison guards of beating her and released photos of her bruises.
Her case has dealt a major blow to Ukraine's relations with the European Union, and Yanukovych faces a publicity disaster as numerous leaders are set to boycott the Euro 2012 football championships that Ukraine co-hosts with Poland.
Tymoshenko is due to attend a court hearing on May 21 in a separate case in which she is accused of tax evasion, but her doctor has said it is "highly improbable" that she will be fit enough to attend.
The EU has expressed concern that the prosecutions of Tymoshenko and several of her former ministers are politically motivated, a charge that Yanukovych denies.