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More than 100,000 people are protesting against Ukrainian government’s move to delay the EU trade deal under pressure from Russia.

Opposition leaders joined the Kiev protest, said to be the largest since the Orange Revolution in 2004.

Police fired tear gas as protesters tried to break through a cordon around government buildings.

A pro-government rally a few miles away attracted about 10,000 people.

Kiev police said they had fired tear gas after protesters threw a smoke grenade at officers in an attempt to break into the Cabinet of Ministers building.

Police fired tear gas as protesters tried to break through a cordon around government buildings

Police fired tear gas as protesters tried to break through a cordon around government buildings

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal last week, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the EU of blackmailing Ukraine to sign the deal during a summit in Vilnius next week.

People arrived at the rally, on European Square, with families and children, many holding banners with slogans like “I want to live in Europe” or “Ukraine is part of Europe”.

Several rallies in Kiev and other cities have been held over the last few days, but Sunday’s has been the largest so far.

World heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who leads the Udar movement and attended Friday’s rally, was not present.

Ukrainian news agency Unian said he had been flying back from the US after celebrating his daughter’s birthday but his plane was not allowed to land in Kiev because of weather conditions.

On Friday, Ukrainian PM Mykola Azarov said the decision not to sign the deal was motivated solely by economics and was “tactical”. He said it did not alter Ukraine’s overall development strategy.

The Ukrainian government says it is now looking into setting up a joint commission to promote ties between Ukraine, Russia and the EU.

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A mass rally has taken place in Kiev following Ukraine’s decision to delay an association agreement with the European Union.

Opposition leaders including former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko have joined the protest on Independence Square.

Activists are comparing the rally to Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution. They plan to make it a permanent rally.

Anti-riot police have been deployed.

A Kiev court has ruled that tents must not be erected on the square. In 2004 tents were a big feature of the protests against Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow presidential candidate whose election was marred by voting abuses. He is in power now and his arch-rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, is in jail.

Activists are comparing the rally to Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution

Activists are comparing the rally to Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution

Ukraine came under intense pressure from Russia not to sign the historic EU deal at a summit next week.

Ukrainian activists are using social media to mobilise supporters, and on Thursday night opposition demonstrations also took place in the cities of Donetsk, Ivano-Frankovsk, Lutsk, Uzhgorod and Lviv.

Ukraine’s PM Mykola Azarov has said the decision not to sign a wide-ranging trade and association agreement with the EU next week was motivated solely by economics and was “tactical”. He said it did not alter Ukraine’s overall development strategy.

“The decision to suspend the EU association agreement signing is difficult, but the only one possible in the current economic situation in Ukraine,” Mykola Azarov told parliament.

The Ukrainian government said on Thursday that it was instead looking into setting up a joint commission to promote ties between Ukraine, Russia and the EU.

Ukraine has suspended preparations for a trade deal with the EU after a government statement said the decision had been taken to protect the country’s “national security”.

Hours earlier MPs rejected a bill that would have allowed jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country – which the EU had demanded as a condition for the deal to proceed.

Ukraine had come under intense pressure from Russia not to sign the historic EU deal at a summit next week.

The Ukrainian government said on Thursday that it was instead looking into setting up a joint commission to promote ties between Ukraine, Russia and the EU.

Russia wants Ukraine to join its own customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus, which it sees as a prototype rival to the EU.

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych was later quoted by AFP as saying Ukraine “will work further on this path, this path to EU integration”, although it is not clear how this tallies with the suspension of preparations for the deal.

On Thursday MPs threw out six drafts of the bill which would have allowed Yulia Tymoshenko to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Ukraine has suspended preparations for a trade deal with the EU

Ukraine has suspended preparations for a trade deal with the EU

The EU is sending a top envoy to Kiev.

Stefan Fuele, European commissioner for enlargement, is travelling to the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, for the second time this week.

The bill failed to pass after MPs from President Viktor Yanukovych’s ruling Regions Party refused to cast their votes on any of the six proposed drafts.

The drafts all fell short of the 226 votes needed.

“It is President Viktor Yanukovych who is personally blocking Ukraine’s movement toward the European Union,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, parliamentary leader of Yulia Tymoshenko’s opposition Fatherland group, told parliament after the vote failed.

Opposition MPs responded by shouting “shame” as the bill was thrown out.

The legislation proposed that convicts be allowed medical treatment abroad.

Yulia Tymoshenko, 52, is serving seven years in jail after a controversial conviction on charges of abuse of power over a gas deal with Russia.

The EU has made clear it believes the judicial campaign against Yulia Tymoshenko has been politically motivated.

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The Ukraine’s parliament vote, on which hangs the fate of both jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and the country’s EU hopes, looks like it may not take place.

Attempts to agree a bill that would allow Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country for medical treatment have stalled.

The EU has made the move a condition for it to sign an association and free trade deal with Ukraine this month.

But Ukraine has come under intense pressure from Russia not to sign.

Attempts to agree a bill that would allow Yulia Tymoshenko to leave Ukraine for medical treatment have stalled

Attempts to agree a bill that would allow Yulia Tymoshenko to leave Ukraine for medical treatment have stalled

Russia wants Ukraine to join its own customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus, which it sees as a prototype rival to the EU.

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych made a secretive visit to Moscow at the weekend.

MPs said on Wednesday that attempts between the government and opposition to finalize a bill allowing convicts to receive medical treatment abroad had failed.

The leader of the opposition Fatherland group, MP Arseniy Yatsenyuk, blamed Viktor Yanukovych’s ruling Party of the Regions for the failure, and said it was deliberately trying to destroy the EU deal.

“They are hindering Ukraine’s movement towards the European Union,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk said.

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found that Ukraine’s pre-trial detention of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011 was illegal and her rights to a legal review and compensation were violated.

Yulia Tymoshenko, who is still in jail, also alleged physical mistreatment, but that complaint was not upheld by the ECHR.

The former prime minister was jailed for seven years for abuse of office over a gas deal.

Tuesday’s verdict does not overturn her prison sentence.

The ECHR will examine that verdict later, in a separate case.

ECHR has found that Ukraine's pre-trial detention of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011 was illegal and her rights to a legal review and compensation were violated

ECHR has found that Ukraine’s pre-trial detention of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011 was illegal and her rights to a legal review and compensation were violated

According to the Associated Press, a Ukrainian government official stormed out of the courtroom after Tuesday’s ruling.

The judgment is not final as the parties involved have three months to lodge any appeal.

Yulia Tymoshenko did not enter any claims for damages.

She was a key figure in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution and went on to become prime minister twice.

In 2009, Yulia Tymoshenko signed a 10-year contract for the supply of Russian gas to Ukraine.

At her trial two years later, prosecutors argued that she had not obtained the approval of her cabinet to sign the deal, and that it had proved ruinous for the Ukrainian economy.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR found that Yulia Tymoshenko’s detention ahead of her trial had violated her right to liberty and security because it had been ordered for an indefinite period of time.

“No risk of absconding was discernible,” it said, noting that the former prime minister had not breached her obligation not to leave town or failed to attend a court hearing.

The Ukrainian trial judge, Rodion Kireyev, had ordered her to spend the trial in custody for contempt of court.

However, the ECHR judges ruled that this “reason was not included among those which would justify deprivation of liberty”.

The ECHR also ruled that Ukraine’s judiciary lacked a procedure for reviewing the detention of suspects.

A complaint that Yulia Tymoshenko had been denied proper medical treatment in detention was thrown out by the ECHR judges.

On the contrary, they found that the local authorities “had invested efforts far beyond the normal healthcare arrangements available for ordinary detainees in Ukraine”.

They also threw out an allegation that Yulia Tymoshenko had been beaten during a transfer from prison to hospital in April 2012, pointing out that she had refused to undergo a full forensic examination at the time.

Though the ECHR did not rule on the legality of Yulia Tymoshenko’s actual conviction, her daughter Yevgenia hailed the verdict as the “first victory” on the way to her release.

“Today we are saying that this is the first victory, the first step to her full political rehabilitation and her immediate release,” she told reporters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is well enough to return to prison after spending nine months in hospital, the Ukrainian health ministry has said.

Yulia Tymoshenko was being treated for back problems after being jailed in 2011 for abuse of office.

Her supporters regard that conviction as politically motivated.

Last year Yulia Tymoshenko claimed to be too ill to attend court proceedings relating to a separate charge of misappropriation of public funds.

The Ukrainian authorities are also investigating allegations against her of tax evasion and involvement in murder.

Yulia Tymoshenko’s conviction for abuse of office relates to a gas deal she signed with Russia as prime minister in 2009, which critics said paid Russia too high a price.

Her supporters say the former prime minister was jailed to prevent her being a political threat to Viktor Yanukovych, the current president.

Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is well enough to return to prison after spending nine months in hospital

Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is well enough to return to prison after spending nine months in hospital

Yulia Tymoshenko remains a popular politician despite her imprisonment, after coming second to Viktor Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election.

She was a face of Ukraine’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution alongside Viktor Yanukovych’s long-time rival Viktor Yushchenko.

Correspondents say the health ministry’s announcement will make it difficult for Yulia Tymoshenko to avoid appearing in court.

Previously Yulia Tymoshenko has boycotted trial proceedings against her, and has also staged hunger strikes in protest at conditions in prison and alleged election fraud.

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Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of extreme right-wing Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), was pelted with sour cabbage during a news conference in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

The woman who threw pickled cabbage salad at Vladimir Zhirinovsky accused him of being a “Ukrainophobe.”

“Where are my bodyguards? Remove this schizophrenic woman!” Vladimir Zhirinovsky shouted, before asking journalists at the news conference to explain what the word “Ukrainophobe” meant.

“It means that you don’t love Ukraine,” they said, but Vladimir Zhirinovsky protested that he had always called for friendly relations between Russia and Ukraine.

“There is not a milligram of anti-Ukrainian feelings in Russia,” he said as the news conference continued.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky was pelted with sour cabbage during a news conference in the Ukrainian capital Kiev

Vladimir Zhirinovsky was pelted with sour cabbage during a news conference in the Ukrainian capital Kiev

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At least 83 people have died in Ukraine from a cold spell that has been gripping the country, officials say.

Temperatures as low as -23C (-9F) and heavy snowfall this month have left the capital Kiev and most of the country under a thick frozen layer.

In western areas, vehicles were trapped in a three-day traffic jam stretching at one point about 20 km (12 miles).

The severe weather is also affecting neighboring Bulgaria and Romania, where six people have reportedly died.

Meteorologists warn that the cold snap in the region could continue and temperatures may drop even further.

On Friday, a senior official from Ukraine’s health ministry said that 83 people were now known to have died from the cold. Most of the victims had been found on the streets.

Volodymyr Yurchenko also said that more than 500 people were still being treated in hospitals across the country.

Nearly 100 towns and villages across the country remain without electricity, and emergency crews are continuing their work to try to restore power.

Army units have also been deployed to help clear the snow on major motorways.

Thousands of “heating shelters” have been set up where those in need – particularly the homeless and the elderly – can receive a hot meal and a warm place to sleep.

But the authorities have been criticized for being slow to react to the adverse weather.

Not everyone is taken care of, critics say, and a number of homeless people know nothing about the emergencies shelters.

“I sleep in the cellar of an abandoned building. I have a roof over my head and nothing else,” said Dima, a homeless man in Kiev.

Last winter, more than 100 people died from the cold in Ukraine.

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