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Ukraine Braces for Competing Protests in Downtown Kiev

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Supporters and opponents of Ukraine's integration into the EU are gathering in downtown Kiev for competing demonstrations Sunday.

KIEV, December 15 (RIA Novosti) – Supporters and opponents of Ukraine's integration into the EU are gathering in downtown Kiev for competing demonstrations Sunday.

Thousands of pro-EU Ukrainians are to take part in a "Dignity Day" rally on the central Independence Square.

Backers of President Viktor Yanukovych will gather on the nearby European Square.

Ukraine’s opposition fears that provocateurs could trigger clashes between rival demonstrators.

Some 2,000 people attended a rally in downtown Simferopol, the capital city of the Crimea, to support the country’s president. The participants are expected to later join the protest in Kiev.

“Politicians on Independence Square who allegedly speak on behalf of the Ukrainian people lie. There is another view in Ukraine, the one of the Crimea and southeastern Ukraine,” a member of the ruling Party of Regions told the protesters.

Protests in Ukraine, focused in Kiev, have been raging since Yanukovych’s government last month pulled out of preparations to sign landmark political and trade deals with the European Union, sparking widespread indignation.

The government said the move was necessary to boost economic ties with long-term ally Russia.

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