Tens of thousands of people rallied in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday against new legislation that imposes strict limits on protests and aims to end two months of antigovernment demonstrations.
Tear gas, stun grenades and a water cannon were used in an attempt to disperse the mass demonstrations in Independence Square after protesters tried to storm the authorities’ blockades near Parliament. AFP reports some of the protesters, wearing balaclavas or scarves to cover their faces, brandished chains or sticks as they were met by riot police protected by helmets and shields.
The clashes come three days after lawmakers used a non-traditional show of hands to quickly push through legislation that banned many aspects of the protests that have hit Kiev since November. Despite widespread condemnation from the U.S. and other Western governments, the new ban will impose heavy fines and jail time on any protesters’ public use of loudspeakers, tents and stages.
As a mark of scorn against the new ban on helmets, some protesters wore colanders and saucepans on their heads as protection. Still, AFP reports, more than two dozen people were injured in the bloody clashes, including at least nine protesters and 20 officers. Ten of them were hospitalized.
Sunday’s demonstrations, the largest yet of 2014 after a holiday lull, were the opposition’s latest show of force against President Viktor Yanukovych, who last year backed away from a trade and association deal with the E.U. in favor of closer ties with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
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