Attack on reporter restores passion to Ukraine demonstrations
KIEV: Protesters demanded Ukraine's interior minister resign on Thursday after an opposition journalist known for documenting the extravagance of the country's political elite was chased down in her car and savagely beaten in a midnight attack.
Clutching pictures of Tetyana Chornovil's badly bruised face, hundreds marched on the Interior Ministry in the capital, Kiev.
The attack on the 34-year-old restored passion to protests which have been losing steam more than a month after the government spurned a pact on closer ties with the European Union, turning instead to former Soviet master Moscow.
Pro-EU demonstrators have been occupying central Kiev but their numbers have been falling since Russia offered Ukraine a $15 billion bailout this month.
Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko had already become a target of opposition anger following a violent crackdown on protesters by police late last month that helped swell the demonstrations.
The attack on Chornovil, shortly after midnight on Wednesday, came hours after she posted pictures online of what she said was Zakharchenko's home, part of a campaign to expose the opulence of the political elite under President Viktor Yanukovich.
"Our police no longer protect their people, but fight them instead, hurt and oppress them," said protester Valentina Gorilova, a 47-year-old housewife.
Some protesters, their hands chained, kneeled before a row of police in mock supplication.
With Ukraine winding down for the Orthodox Christian holiday season, the opposition movement has shown signs of waning. A hard core of hundreds continue to camp out around braziers on Kiev's Independence Square, swelled by weekly mass rallies of around 100,000 or more.