Ukraine's capital girds for major demonstrations

The moon rises over a metal base of destroyed metal Christmas tree decorated with Ukrainian national flags during a Pro-European Union rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The opposition has called for a vast turnout to a rally on Sunday. Rallies on the previous two Sundays drew hundreds of thousands of protesters. That same day, Yanukovych's Party of Regions has called for a pro-government demonstration that it claims will bring 200,000 people to Kiev.(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Opposition demonstrators are heading for a major rally in the center of Ukraine's capital while government backers are gathering nearby for their own demonstration, as tensions remain strong in the political crisis now in its fourth week.

The opposition's confidence has been bolstered in the past week after riot police stood down from two confrontations with protesters and by indications the government is attempting to appease them. The protest camp in downtown Kiev has expanded in recent days, with a score of large, army-style tents extending hundreds of meters down the street from Independence Square, the center of the protests.

Opposition rallies the past two Sundays have attracted hundreds of thousands. Backers of President Viktor Yanukovych's party are also gathering for a counter-demonstration on Sunday.