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Ukraine plans patriotic rallies as Crimea crisis deepens

Published on Mar 9, 2014 12:42 PM

KIEV (AFP) - Rallies were planned across Ukraine on Sunday as the troubled ex-Soviet state struggled to contain upheaval amid a standoff between Russia and the West over Crimea that shows no sign of easing.

Sunday marks 200 years since the birth of Ukraine's national hero, the poet Taras Shevchenko, and patriotic rallies were planned in Kiev and - in a show of defiance of Russia's de facto control over Crimea - the peninsula's key cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol.

Pro-Russian protesters were due to hold a counter-rally in the tense eastern city of Donetsk, where clashes were feared between them and pro-Kiev demonstrators also planning to celebrate Shevchenko.

The internal wrangling over Ukraine's identity and future were mirrored on the international stage by escalating hostilities between Russia and the West.

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