Schwarzenegger throws weight behind Ukrainian protesters

KIEV - Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday sent a video message of support to anti-government protesters in Ukraine, wishing them luck and making a peace sign.

"I want to send a message to the people of the Ukraine to let them know that I wish them all the best of luck in their peaceful struggle for democracy and freedom," said the deeply tanned action star and former California governor.

"Peace!" he added, raising a V sign.

Schwarzenegger sent the message via fellow muscleman celebrity turned politician Vitali Klitschko, leader of UDAR, or Punch, opposition party.

Klitschko, who is a key opponent of Viktor Yanukovych, has attempted to resolve the violent crisis in Kiev by holding talks with the Ukrainian president, who has so far granted only a few concessions that have failed to satisfy the protesters' demands.

The Schwarzenegger video was posted Friday on YouTube and Facebook pages belonging to Vitali Klitschko and his world heavyweight champion brother Wladimir.

By publicly backing the opposition protesters, Schwarzenegger joined stars including actor George Clooney, who last month recorded a video message criticising the government's violent suppression of protests.

Fellow Republican, Senator John McCain, also addressed several hundred thousand protesters at a Kiev rally in December.

Schwarzenegger, who stepped down as California governor in 2011, has previously made friendly overtures to Ukraine's former master Russia. In 2010 he showed then-president Dmitry Medvedev round Silicon Valley and then visited him in Moscow, where the two pumped iron at a gym together.