Hundreds join Ukraine anti-vaccination rally

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Ukraine has recently reported record numbers of daily coronavirus cases and deaths, while only 20 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated (AFP/GENYA SAVILOV)

Over a thousand people rallied in central Kiev on Wednesday to protest Ukraine's coronavirus vaccination drive and new restrictions that were imposed to contain a surge in infections.

Ukraine has recently reported record numbers of daily coronavirus cases and deaths, while only 20 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Protesters gathered outside the parliament building in the capital Kiev before briefly blocking traffic in the centre of the city.

In the rain, they held up posters reading "No to vaccination", "No to medical experiments, protect our children".

Some held posters depicting a crying baby encircled with syringes.

"I do not want to be vaccinated with a vaccine developed in an emergency, it does not give me any confidence," Nataliya Golubtsova, a 62-year-old retiree, told AFP.

Another protester, Olena Makovyk, 50, dubbed the vaccination a "medical experiment".

"We are not addicts to prick ourselves every six months!" Makovyk, a store vendor, said.

There was a heavy police presence but no clashes.

The ex-Soviet country reported 720 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the third-highest number in the world after the United States and Russia.

New daily cases hit a pandemic record of 26,870 last week and were at more than 23,000 on Wednesday.

After initially struggling to secure a vaccine supply, Ukraine now has three jabs available -- AstraZeneca, Pfizer and the Chinese-made CoronaVac -- but is struggling to convince Ukrainians to get inoculated.

New restrictions requiring vaccinations to enter public venues in badly hit areas have seen people flock to vaccine centres. Currently more than 250,000 people are getting vaccinated each day.

Ukraine has recorded more than 2.9 million coronavirus cases and 69,000 deaths.

video-dg/acl/har

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