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Sen. McCain supports Ukraine protesters, irks Moscow

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By Reuters
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 8:21 p.m.

KIEV, Ukraine — Sen. John McCain met Ukrainian opposition leaders in Kiev on Saturday and voiced support for protesters camped out for weeks in the capital, a move likely to anger Moscow for what it sees as Western meddling in its backyard.

The street protests started in response to last month's decision by President Viktor Yanukovich, wary of bankruptcy, to walk away from a trade pact with Europe at the last minute and seek closer ties with its old Soviet master.

The movement has grown in size and vehemence, bringing tens of thousands onto the streets in a series of rallies, becoming an all-out protest against the president and his cabinet.

McCain, R-Ariz., is the latest of a string of European and American dignitaries to tour the sprawling protest camp set up behind tall barricades, prompting Russia to accuse the West of excessive involvement.

McCain was due to be joined by the chairman of the Senate's Europe subcommittee, Chris Murphy, on Sunday.

“I am proud of the people of Ukraine and their steadfast efforts for democracy,” McCain said after meeting the country's Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara.

McCain then met opposition leaders — ex-boxing champion Vitaly Klitchko, former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and nationalist Oleh Tyahnybog — who are seeking Yanukovich's government to resign and early elections.

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