Klitschko leads thousands in Ukraine opposition protest

Over 5,000 people led by opposition leaders like boxing star Vitaly Klitschko took to the streets of Kiev Tuesday to protest against city authorities and demand mayoral elections.

The Ukrainian capital's previous mayor Leonid Chernovetsky, who bewildered Ukrainians with his bizarre antics and was accused of insanity by opponents, resigned last year.

Since his departure, the city of around 3 million has been run by city manager Olexander Popov appointed to the post by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2010.

The opposition, who enjoys significant support in the capital, charges that pro-Yanukovych authorities are reluctant to schedule the date of new mayoral elections out of fear of losing them.

During their march through the city centre to the walls of the parliament, angry protesters held an effigy of the mustachioed city manager Popov, a sign hanging from its neck reading: "Fired by Kiev residents."

During the march led by opposition leaders including Klitschko, head of UDAR (Punch) political party, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, protesters also carried placards reading "Elected mayor for Kiev" and "Stop robbing Kiev residents of their choice," an AFP correspondent reported.

"No city or village and especially the Ukrainian capital can exist without the legitimate authorities elected by people," Kiltschko told the Ukrainian parliament after the march ended and the protesters continued to rally outside the parliament building.

"So it's our duty today to schedule elections in Kiev," he said in broadcast remarks.

Popov has come under bitter criticism from Kiev residents and the media for his inability to cope with a record-breaking snowfall in late March, when the city was stuck in traffic jams and the authorities had to bring in armed personnel carriers to help clear the streets.