Hundreds of demonstrators have rallied in the center of the Ukrainian capital to protest what they call the government's crackdown on one of the few remaining independent TV channels ahead of parliamentary elections in late October.

About 1,500 people gathered on Saturday in support of the TVi channel and freedom of speech in Ukraine.

TVi, which is broadcast in big cities and on some cable systems, has found itself under pressure from authorities. Its offices were raided by police, many cable companies stopped transmitting it, and its director was charged with tax evasion, although the charges were later dropped.

Media and rights groups complain of increasingly shrinking media freedoms in Ukraine since Viktor Yanukovych became president in 2010.