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KIEV, February 23, 20:40 /ITAR-TASS/ About 5,000 gathered on Sunday on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in downtown Kiev to protest former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko’s return to politics.
“Timoshenko’s return was never on the list of Maidan’s demands. Instead, the talk was about changing the entire system to administer the country,” says a resolution adopted after the rally.
Timoshenko, jailed under President Viktor Yanukovich, was released from prison on Saturday in line with the parliament's decision. She came to Kiev and spoke to protesters who gathered on Maidan, the symbol of Ukraine’s protests. She said she would run for president in the elections set by parliament for May 25.
A Ukrainian court had sentenced Timoshenko in 2011 to seven years in prison for abuse of power over a 2009 gas deal with Russia that the Ukrainian authorities said was unprofitable for the country.
Ukraine has been hit by anti-government protests, which often turned violent, since November. New riots started February 18 and have eventually led to President Yanukovich reportedly fleeing his residence outside Kiev. Ukraine’s unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, took over and appointed an acting president, also setting early elections.
Yanukovich called the developments "a coup" and refused to obey the Rada’s decisions. His current whereabouts are unknown.
According to the latest data from the Ukrainian Health Ministry, 82 people have been killed and 645 turned to the Ukrainian capital’s medical institutions for help, with 423 of them hospitalized, since the start of the latest violence on February 18.