Police in the Ukrainian capital Kiev broke up a large anti-government demonstration in the city centre before dawn today, swinging truncheons and injuring many.
The riot police used tear gas when they dispersed the crowd of about 400 protesters who were demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, demonstrators said.
The crowd was the remains of a Friday night gathering that attracted some 10,000 people protesting against Mr Yanukovych’s decision not to sign a long-anticipated association agreement with the European Union.
“It was horrible. We were holding a peaceful demonstration and they attacked us,” said Lada Tromada. “They threw us away like garbage.”
Ambulances were on the scene at Independence Square, and some demonstrators were seen bleeding from their heads and arms.
Police moved in on the demonstration at about 4.30am local time said one of its organisers, Sergei Milnichenko.
Protests have been held in Kiev over the past week since Mr Yanukovych backed away from the agreement.
It was to have been signed yesterday at an EU summit in the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, and the passing of that date sparked an especially large turn-out of protesters.
Mr Yanukovych abruptly changed course for integration with the EU last week when his government announced it was suspending preparations for signing the agreement.
The move angered many in Ukraine, where nearly half of the population of around 45 million favours closer ties with the EU.
Mr Yanukovych argued that Ukraine cannot afford to sacrifice trade with Russia, which has tried to block the deal by banning some of Ukraine’s imports and threatening more trade sanctions.