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22 Feb, 2009 01:43

Anti-government rally in Ukraine

About a thousand protesters have flocked to the streets of the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, to rally against the government's handling of the economy.

They called for the government's resignation and new and fair elections.

“President Yushchenko, the government of Tymoshenko and the parliamentary majority consisting of oligarchs and NATO henchmen, who have shown that they are unable to get the country out of the crisis,” read a resolution of the rally participants. “Ukraine needs a total change of power, otherwise it will face famine, ruin and death.”

Many protesters headed to the city from other towns in Crimea to rally against growing unemployment and spiralling living costs.

They were seeking to freeze on bank loans for one year, a free medical service and increasing the minimum wage to the actual minimum cost of living.

The rally included representatives of many political parties, including the pro-Russian Party of Regions, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and several other political parties and organisations.

The protestors demanded Ukraine’s withdrawal from European financial organisations and insisted the country should ask for Russia's support to overcome the crisis.

They also called on the Ukrainian government to comply with the agreement on the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. Russians constitute over 50 per cent of the republic’s population.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea received autonomous status within Ukraine, which was limited by the new constitution in 1998.