Protesters stage new pro-EU rally in Ukraine

Pro-European integration protesters attend a rally in Independence square in Kiev, 12 January 2014

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Thousands of Ukrainians are gathering on Kiev's main square to demand closer relations with the EU and protest against an opposition leader's beating.

The rally is part of an ongoing anti-government movement, formed in protest at the president's rejection of an EU deal in favour of a pact with Russia.

It comes just days after protesters clashed with police, injuring dozens.

Opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko, a former minister, was badly beaten but is in a stable condition.

He is still in hospital being treated for the injuries he sustained in Friday's clashes, but was recently taken out of intensive care.

Numbers dwindling?

The protests are now in their eighth week, but the numbers have been lower over the period covering the New Year and Orthodox Christmas celebrations.

Correspondents say the coming days and weeks will be a test for the longevity of the campaign.

The BBC's David Stern in Kiev says that while the ongoing protests have produced the largest demonstrations since the 2004 Orange Revolution, so far none of the protesters' main demands have been met.

The rallies began after President Viktor Yanukovych announced he was pulling out of a landmark trade and political treaty with the EU.

Instead, President Viktor Yanukovych struck a deal with Russia in December, which has seen big cuts in the price of gas imports from Russia.

Moscow also supported Ukraine's finances with a $15bn (£9bn) purchase of government bonds.

Protests in Kiev Some protesters want opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko released from prison

Friday's violence marked the first use of force against a leader of these pro-Western protests.

Yuriy Lutsenko is the leader of the Third Ukrainian Republic opposition movement and once held the post of interior minister.

His party confirmed on Saturday that he had suffered "closed-head injury, concussion and hematomas".

Mr Lutsenko's wife Iryna said he was attacked by baton-wielding police as he tried to break up the violence.

The clashes occurred outside a courthouse in Kiev, where a large crowd had gathered for the verdict in a trial against members of a far-right organisation.

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