Ukraine's capital hit by mass anti-govt protest

JIM HEINTZ and YURAS KARMANAU
Associated Press
View photos
Flowers from pro-European union activists lay in front of police outside the Presidential office in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, with various messages supporting their cause. Thousands of Ukrainians angered by police violence and the president's turn away from Europe are expected to converge on the capital Sunday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — An opposition leader says a million people have showed up for a rally in the center of Kiev — the biggest protest since Ukraine's pro-democracy Orange Revolution in 2004.

The Associated Press could not immediately verify Oleksandr Turchynov's count. But AP reporters on the ground estimate that more than 500,000 have crammed into and around Kiev's central square, waving European Union flags and singing the national anthem.

Turchynov said the Sunday protest has matched its billing as "The March of a Million." Video airing on local websites taken from high above the square showed streets jammed with crowds into the distance.

Protesters are denouncing President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to turn away from Europe.

The Ukrainian government has threatened harsh measures against the demonstrators and arrested opposition activists, but the protests have only gained steam.