(Bloomberg) -- Protesters in Kiev demanded punishment for an ally of President Petro Poroshenko and his son in a probe into alleged embezzlement of defense funds, two weeks before Ukraine’s presidential election.

Several thousand people turned out on Saturday for the rally on the capital’s main square organized by a nationalist party, Natsionalnyi Korpus, which includes veterans of Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists. The protesters then marched to Poroshenko’s office.

Poroshenko, who is seeking re-election in the vote on March 31, dismissed business partner Oleh Hladkovskyi as deputy head of the National Security and Defense Council after investigative journalists reported that he was part of a group that embezzled military funds. Ukraine’s anti-graft bureau is investigating the possible misappropriation of government funds.

Hladkovskyi and his son, also cited in the report, have denied the journalists’ allegations.

Poroshenko is trailing comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyi and is competing with former ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to stay in contention. With no candidate expected to win 50 percent of the national vote in the first round, the election is likely to go to a two-way runoff.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yulia Surkova in Kiev at ysurkova@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net, Tony Czuczka, James Amott

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