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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine to Prosecute Protesters

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KIEV — While Western governments have increased pressure on Ukraine to seek a resolution of its political turmoil, Ukrainian authorities have said they plan to prosecute opposition leaders behind last week's mass rallies, which turned violent, injuring scores of demonstrators and police.

"We have launched a criminal case under Article 71 … mass disturbances," Olexander Skrypnik, spokesman for the SBU, Ukraine's security service, said Monday.

Up to 10,000 people marched through Kiev on Friday in the largest demonstration yet demanding President Leonid Kuchma resign over the scandal of a murdered journalist.

Another protest is planned for Wednesday at the presidential administration building. By Wednesday, however, Kuchma is expected to be traveling outside Kiev.

Interior ministry officials said police detained 206 people after Friday's clashes. Of those, 67 had been freed, 52 would be held for 15 days and 87 were awaiting court hearings.

Volodymyr Prystaiko, SBU's head of investigation, said authorities wanted to find the main organizers.

"We … will certainly look into who instigated [the clashes], who paid people who came from different cities," Prystaiko told state television. "I would like those who were behind it … to know we will definitely get to them."

Western governments, meanwhile, are losing patience with Kuchma.

The United States and the European Union have voiced mounting concern at a crackdown on Kuchma's critics, and Washington has linked future financial aid to Ukraine to resolving the turmoil.

"Kuchma ceased to be a good thing some time ago. He has been irreparably damaged in the view of many Western observers," said Michael Emerson, a former senior EU diplomat and expert on Ukraine at the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels.

"My own view is it would be better if he were to go."

Even Poland — which has been a strong ally of Ukraine in past years — has softened its support in recent months.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski on Tuesday said he will meet Kuchma later this week despite pressure from lawmakers in both countries to cancel the visit. Kuchma is due to visit for informal talks Thursday in the Polish town of Kazimierz Dolny.

The planned meeting has sparked an outcry from Poland's right-wing ruling party and Ukraine's opposition, some of whose members are due in Warsaw on Tuesday to drum up support for protests against the Ukrainian leader's visit.

Students March in Lviv

Thousands of students marched through the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Tuesday, demanding the release of arrested protesters, The Associated Press reported.

About 200 protesters from the Lviv-based UNA-UNSO nationalist movement were arrested after Friday's clash with police in Kiev. No violence was reported in Lviv Tuesday.