|V. Yanukovich, a party chief, also blamed the current leaders.|
Thousands rally vs. Ukraine government
MOSCOW - Upwards of 10,000 protesters gathered in Kiev yesterday to demand a change of government in Ukraine, and President Viktor Yushchenko said he was considering calling early presidential and parliamentary elections.
"I am not afraid of any early elections, including presidential polls," Yushchenko said at a news conference. Previously, he has advocated sticking to the present schedule, which calls for presidential elections in January 2010.
Protesters carrying signs reading "Ukraine's Government is Ukraine's Shame!" gathered in Independence Square, where crowds swept Yushchenko's pro-Western coalition into office five years ago.
Police estimated the crowd at 8,000, but other estimates were as high as 20,000. It was the second protest in two weeks by the pro-Russia Party of Regions, which blames Ukraine's leadership for failing to cope with the economic downturn.
On Thursday, deputies from the Party of Regions had swarmed the podium in Ukraine's parliament, blocking an important vote on crisis measures.
Yesterday, however, Viktor Yanukovich, the party's leader, told roaring protesters that the economy would not recover until the present leadership was gone.