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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rally: Kuchma Has Blood on Hands

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KIEV — Protesters deposited a glassful of blood outside Ukraine's Interior Ministry on Wednesday, accusing President Leonid Kuchma of having blood on his hands following the murder of reporter Georgy Gongadze.

A dozen of the demonstrators helped fill the glass with their own blood, which the leader of the protest then placed outside the ministry's main entrance. Police, who last week fought a pitched battle with participants in an earlier rally before arresting dozens of them, looked on but made no move.

The symbolic protest came during a 1,000-strong march through the capital, the latest in a two-month-old campaign to press for Kuchma's resignation. They allege that the ministry acted on Kuchma's orders to "get rid" of the reporter.

Kuchma and his top officials deny involvement in the death of Gongadze, whose headless and mutilated corpse was found in a shallow grave outside Kiev last November. The 31-year-old reporter had accused the president of large-scale corruption.

Police were out in force as demonstrators — a loose coalition including nationalists and socialists — chanted "Kuchma out!" and demanded the release of students detained in a protest that turned violent in the city last week.

"I want to urge you to be disciplined today," Yury Lutsenko, a leader of the Ukraine Without Kuchma movement, told the crowd, which marched from parliament to the prosecutor general's office and on to the Interior Ministry and presidential administration.

"I ask you not to give in to emotions or provocations," Lutsenko added.

Protesters shouted "Shame! Shame!" at busloads of riot police that have been stationed in the city center for days. They laid wreaths "to Kuchma's political death" outside his office.

The president, on holiday in the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea, retains a tight grip on power, and is adept at exploiting a divided opposition.

Last Friday's protest was the first to turn violent and was also the largest, with up to 10,000 taking part. About 50 people remain in detention after battling riot police outside Kuchma's administration building.

Rallies have been generally confined to the capital, though on Tuesday 4,000 students surged through the cobbled streets of Lviv.