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Tens of thousands protest tough anti-dissent legislation

  • c70a38a38bd24502490f6a7067002436.jpg

    Ukrainian opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok, center, surrounded by pro-European Union activists, speaks to anti-protesters in front of a tent camp in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. About seventy people who oppose demonstrators in Kiev came to the protester's tent camp to destroy it. Ukraine’s president on Friday ignored sharp Western criticism and approved controversial anti-protest legislation aimed at quashing massive anti-government demonstrations which have rocked Kiev for nearly two months. A poster at left criticizes Ukrainian judicial system. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)The Associated Press

  • c09f38728bd14502490f6a706700b909.jpg

    Pro-European Union activists stand in front of a barricade of their tent camp to protect it in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. About seventy people who oppose demonstrators in Kiev came to the protester's tent camp to destroy it. Ukraine’s president on Friday ignored sharp Western criticism and approved controversial anti-protest legislation aimed at quashing massive anti-government demonstrations which have rocked Kiev for nearly two months. A poster at left criticizes Ukrainian judicial system. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)The Associated Press

  • f8a79ab48bd04502490f6a7067004cfc.jpg

    Pro-European Union activists stand in front of a barricade of their tent camp to protect it in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. About seventy people who oppose demonstrators in Kiev came to the protester's tent camp to destroy it. Ukraine’s president on Friday ignored sharp Western criticism and approved controversial anti-protest legislation aimed at quashing massive anti-government demonstrations which have rocked Kiev for nearly two months. A poster at left criticizes Ukrainian judicial system. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)The Associated Press

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are rallying in the center of Kiev, in defiance of recent legislation that significantly curbs their rights to protest.

Last week President Viktor Yanukovych caused an uproar at home and abroad when he approved a number of laws that limit Ukrainians' rights to protest, civic activism and free speech. The U.S. called that legislation "undemocratic."

The move was aimed at quashing the protests calling for his ouster, which have rocked Kiev and other cities in Ukraine for nearly two months. The protests were sparked by Yanukvoych's decision to freeze ties with the European Union and embrace Russia instead. They were intensified by police violence.

Opposition as well as civic and religious leaders exhorted Ukrainians on Sunday to keep up the protest and fight for democracy.