Yanukovich - Putin deal

Thousands of Ukrainian protesters took to the street after Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich reached a deal with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Putin has agreed to buy billions of dollars worth of Ukrainian government bonds, and to reduce the price of gas exports.

Pro-EU Ukrainian protesters demand to know what Yanukovich has promised Russia, in return of the bailout.

Yanokovich has been accused of selling the country to Russia: opposition leader Vitali Klitschko told pro-EU protesters that Yanukovych is betraying Ukraine's independence.

Putin said that Russia's assistance was "not tied to any conditions", and both presidents confirmed they had not discussed Ukraine joining a Moscow-led customs union. However, the bailout keeps Kiev firmly tied to Moscow, and the possibility of a collaboration with EU does not seem to be included in Yanukovich's plans for the future of Ukraine.

Thousands of Ukrainians have been protesting since late November, feeling betrayed that Yanukovich spurned a trade and investment deal with the European Union last month.

Ukraine requires urgent financial assistance in the coming months to keep the economy stable. Caught between Western powers on one side, and the former Soviet master on the other, Yanukovich admitted that his decision to spur the deal with EU had been influenced by heavy pressure from Russia.

Protesters do not lose the hope to finally free Ukraine from Russia's grip. Many Ukrainians spent the night of Tuesday in the freezing cold, urging the president to step down and call for snap elections.

"I think the people will eventually have it their way. We will sign up to Europe. That's why I'm here," said one factory worker who spent the night on Kiev's main square.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that any agreement with Russia should not prevent Ukraine from looking West.

"At the moment it seems to be an either-or proposition ... We need to put an end to this," Merkel told ARD TV.

"A bidding competition won't solve the problem."