Kharkiv: More than 5,000 protesters rallied in Kharkiv Friday against the authorities, calling for former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to be released from jail in the first major show of opposition in the east Ukraine city.
The protest went ahead despite a local court order banning the demonstration and dozens of public transport vehicles blocking the rally`s passage, a journalist on the scene said.
Supporters of three opposition parties had to change their planned route because central squares and streets were blocked with trams and trolleybuses, causing a collapse in the transport system.
The rally still managed to attract a crowd of about five thousand on the central square, according to police estimates.
The opposition called the rally to coincide with a court hearing in the tax evasion case against Tymoshenko in Kharkiv, which was postponed in her absence as she receives medical treatment in a local hospital.
Kharkiv authorities opposed the rally, the first major opposition gathering in eastern Ukraine, and asked the court to ban it "in order to protect the interests of the Kharkiv residents," mayor Gennadiy Kernes said.
The rally was led by Vitaly Klitschko, the head of UDAR (Punch) political party, nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party leader Oleg Tyagnybok and leading opposition figurehead Arseniy Yatsenyuk.