Thousands of Ukranians backing President Viktor Yanukovich rallied Saturday in central Kiev, separated by only a barricade of riot police from a rival anti-government demonstration and raising concerns over a potential clash.
Opposition protests have gained international attention since protestors first took to the streets Nov. 21. Yanukovich sparked public outcry when he backed out of a long-proposed trade deal with the European Union under pressure from Russia.
The pro-Yanukovich demonstration swelled the capital’s Maidan square with people, as more anti-government activists descended on the designated opposition camp for a planned Sunday protest, Reuters reports.
U.S. Sen. John McCain also arrived Saturday to meet with and throw his support behind opposition leaders.
In what government critics say is an attempt to quell the protests, on Saturday Yanukovich dismissed the head of Kiev’s state administration and a national security aide for their involvement in a violent Nov. 30 clash.