© Press TVFireworks illuminate the night sky above Independence Square where pro-European integration supporters take part in New Year celebrations, in central Kiev, on January 1, 2014.

Thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered in Ukraine's capital Kiev in a fresh show of force against the government's decision to shelve a deal with the European Union.

On Wednesday, the protesters convened on Kiev's Independence Square to continue more than a month of demonstrations opposing President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign an association pact with the EU.

The protesters, wrapped in Ukrainian and EU flags, demanded that President Yanukovych and his government step down.

They also called for early parliamentary and presidential elections.

Ukraine has been rocked with anti-government protests after Yanukovych refrained from signing the association agreement with the EU at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, in November 2013.

European Union leaders blame Russia for Ukraine's refusal to sign the deal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has in return accused Western countries of losing "their sense of reality" over Ukraine's crisis, and also charged them with using blackmail to cut Kiev off from Russia.

On December 17, Russia and Ukraine reached a strategic economic and trade agreement under which Kiev is given significant discounts on imported Russian gas and billions of dollars in credit.

Under the deal, Moscow will buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds from the National Welfare Fund.

Moscow will also reduce the price of gas sold to Ukraine by about one-third and improve work conditions for Ukrainians working in Russia.