KIEV, Ukraine —
“Our plan is clear: It’s not a demonstration, it’s not a reaction. It’s a revolution,” said Yuriy Lutsenko, a former interior minister who is now an opposition leader.
Chants of “revolution” resounded across a sea of yellow and blue Ukrainian and EU flags on the square, where the government had prohibited rallies starting Sunday. Thousands of protesters remained late into the evening and some were preparing to spend the night on the square.
The demonstration was by far the largest since the protests began more than a week ago and it carried echoes of the 2004 Orange Revolution, when tens of thousands came to the square nightly for weeks and set up a tent camp along the main street leading to the square.
The opposition leaders urged Ukrainians from all over the country to join the protests in the capital.
“Our future is being decided here in Kiev,” Klitschko said.
Ukrainian lawmakers meet Monday for consultations and planned to hold a parliament session Tuesday. The opposition is hoping to muster enough votes to oust Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s Cabinet after several lawmakers quit Yanukovych’s Party of Regions in protest.
The U.S. Embassy issued a joint statement from U.S. and EU ambassadors encouraging Ukrainians to resolve their differences peacefully and urging “all stakeholders in the political process to establish immediate dialogue to facilitate a mutually acceptable resolution to the current discord.”
Protests have been held daily in Kiev since Yanukovych backed away from an agreement that would have established free trade and deepened political cooperation between Ukraine and the EU. He justified the decision by saying that Ukraine couldn’t afford to break trade ties with Russia.
The EU agreement was to have been signed Friday and since then the protests have gained strength.
The agreement had been eagerly anticipated by Ukrainians who want their country of 45 million people to break out of Moscow’s orbit. Opinion surveys in recent months showed about 45 percent of Ukrainians supporting closer integration with the EU and a third or less favoring closer ties with Russia.