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Manitoba motorists ride to honour protester

AutoMaidan leader abducted, tortured

Daria Lytwyn tries to get a quick photo of the procession while taking part in a car rally in Winnipeg Sunday.


Daria Lytwyn tries to get a quick photo of the procession while taking part in a car rally in Winnipeg Sunday.

Close to 100 motorists took part in a car rally in Winnipeg Sunday, prompted by the AutoMaidan demonstrations in Ukraine to pay tribute to the Kyiv opposition activist whose bloodied, beaten face was seen in news reports around the world last week.

Dmytro Bulatov, 35, is the leader of AutoMaidan, a group of car owners that has taken part in the protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Bulatov went missing Jan. 22, then turned up last week after being tortured and having his ear cut off.

Dmytro Bulatov

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Dmytro Bulatov (CP)

"We're doing this to honour him," Oksana Bondarchuk, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress's Manitoba council, said before the rally. "He spearheaded AutoMaidan."

Security agency warns of heightened terror risk

KYIV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's security agency on Sunday warned of a heightened risk of terrorism, including from nearly three months of anti-government protests. The warning raised the pressure on the opposition as parliament tries to find a way out of the crisis.

The Security Service of Ukraine said it was putting its counterterrorism units on alert after receiving a large number of bomb threats across the country at airports, train stations, pipelines and other locations. In what was seen as a warning to the opposition, the seizure of government buildings also would be viewed as manifestations of terrorism, the agency said in a statement.

Some 30,000 people turned out for a rally in Kyiv's Independence Square, known as the Maidan, on Sunday, the day the demonstrations usually draw the largest crowds.

Opposition leaders demanded a constitutional reform that would reduce presidential powers and early elections in which they hope to unseat President Viktor Yanukovych. The measures are currently being discussed in the national parliament, which is controlled by Yanukovych loyalists who so far have rejected those demands.

"The authorities are already scared of us," opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok told the crowd. "We need to press them further."


-- The Associated Press

Vehicles sporting Ukrainian flags and matching balloons lined up outside the Manitoba legislature Sunday to show their solidarity with the pro-independence movement in Ukraine. They drove through Winnipeg's downtown and The Forks before gathering at St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on Burrows Avenue for a town hall meeting.

Nearly 5,000 AutoMaidan activists participate in convoys to the homes of high-ranking politicians, transport supplies to protesters in Kyiv's Independence Square and rescue demonstrators caught in violent clashes with authorities.

Late last year, for example, a 1,000-car caravan carried thousands of protesters close to Yanukovych's mansion outside Kyiv before being turned back by police.

Two weeks later, a 200-car column came close to delivering Yanukovych a summons to the "People's Court."

In Winnipeg, the car rally was help to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to let other Canadians know about the situation in Ukraine, said Bondarchuk.

Manitoba has more than 167,000 residents of Ukrainian descent, more than 110,000 of whom live in Winnipeg, census figure show.

Many have close ties to Ukraine and dozens have travelled there as election observers since Ukraine declared its independence in 1991.

Ukraine may have declared its independence, but Moscow is still trying to control Ukraine through Yanukovych and stifling human rights, said Walter Lytwyn.

He drove his family in Sunday's rally.

"It's a call for freedom and for Russians not to occupy Ukraine," Lytwyn said.

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