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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

15,000 Ukrainians Chant 'No' to Government Policy

ReutersWomen wearing fake braids like Tymoshenko's at rally in central Kiev Friday.
KIEV -- Thousands of Ukrainians jammed Kiev's main square Friday to protest government policies amid a worsening financial crisis as tensions builds ahead of presidential elections later this year.

In the second major anti-government rally in over a week, at least 15,000 protesters waved flags of the opposition Party of Regions and chanted "No!" as they protested what they said was the government's failure to battle the effects of the financial crisis here, which is one of the worst in Europe.

"Look what they've done to the country," said Heorhiy Lukash, a 55-year-old unemployed train driver waving a giant blue flag. "They don't care about ordinary people."

With elections scheduled for Oct. 25, political tensions are running high, with fears that election posturing and infighting will only prolong -- or deepen -- the crisis. The International Monetary Fund has offered a $16.4 billion rescue loan to help the country, but a struggle between President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other political groups has blocked the much-needed second installment. Parliament needs to pass a series of stabilization measures in order to receive the IMF aid, but a crucial vote stalled Thursday when Party of Regions members blocked parliament doors with chairs and prevented the session from starting.

Addressing supporters at the rally, Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych called for early parliamentary elections and demanded that the government resign. "The sooner they go, the sooner we can bring order to our country," Yanukovych said. "Down with these authorities, and let us begin building a country we dream of."