Key Tymoshenko ally walks free from Ukraine prison

A former Ukrainian interior minister and an ally of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko walked free from a prison in northern Ukraine on Sunday after being pardoned by President Viktor Yanukovych.

Yuriy Lutsenko, who like Tymoshenko was a key figure in the country's 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution, exited the Menskaya corrective labour facility in the northern town of Makoshyne and was greeted by his wife Irina and friends.

He told reporters upon his release that he would seek a meeting with Tymoshenko and remain in politics.

"I will be in the streets, among people," Lutsenko, dressed in jeans and an ethnic Ukrainian embroidered shirt, told reporters.

He also addressed a rally of some 5,000 people in the capital Kiev called by Ukraine's opposition leaders earlier this week to demand Yanukovych's resignation.

"I am sincerely happy that I will finally be among those who like me are dreaming about an independent and European Ukraine," he told them by telephone.

"Politics is being done not in the offices, it is being done in the squares. We've already won there and we will win again," he told the rally dubbed "Rise Up, Ukraine".

He was referring to the 2004 Orange Revolution, when hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets to protest rigged elections that handed victory to Yanukovych.

The rally was called after pro-government lawmakers in the Ukrainian parliament last week held a plenary session at an alternative venue amid a weeks-long standoff with the opposition.

The opposition described the rare walkout as a coup attempt and called on prosecutors to open a criminal probe.

The last time the Ukrainian parliament split into two and met at separate venues was under then president Leonid Kuchma in 2000.