In response to opposition calls, about 1,000 demonstrators moved
away from Kiev's Independence Square in the early hours of Friday
and began to erect new barricades closer to presidential
Masked protesters, some carrying riot police shields seized as
trophies, stood guard as others piled up sandbags packed with frozen
snow to form new ramparts across the road leading down into the
Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko, after leaving a second round of
talks with Yanukovich empty handed, late on Thursday voiced fears
the impasse could now lead to further bloodshed.
At least three protesters have been killed so far — two from gunshot
wounds — after clashes between protesters led by a hard core of
radicals and riot police.
After speaking first to protesters manning the barricades, Klitschko
then went to Independence Square where he declared: "Hours of
conversation were spent about nothing. There is no sense sitting at
a negotiating table with someone who has already decided to deceive
"I earnestly wish that there will be no bloodshed and that people
are not killed ... I will survive, but I am afraid there will be
deaths, I am afraid of this," the boxer-turned-politician said.
Three opposition politicians — Klitschko, former economy minister
Arseny Yatsenyuk and far-right nationalist Oleh Tyahnibok — had
tried to wring concessions from Yanukovich that would end two months
of street protests against his rule.
A group of protesters took control of the main agricultural ministry
building in the center. "We need the place for our people to warm
up," a local protest leader was quoted as saying by Interfax news
Meanwhile, radical protesters near Dynamo Kiev football stadium — the new flashpoint in the city — cranked up their action, setting
tires ablaze again and sending a pall of black smoke over the area.
There were no signs that protesters were heeding an appeal from
general prosecutor Viktor Pshonka who said early on Friday that
those so far arrested would be treated leniently by the courts if
protest action was halted.
There are reports that protests are spreading to other provincial
Thousands stormed regional administration headquarters in Rivne in
western Ukraine on Thursday, breaking down doors and demanding the
release of people detained in the unrest there, UNIAN news agency
In the town of Cherkasy, 200 km (125 miles) south of Kiev, about
1,000 protesters took over the first two floors of the main
administration building and lit fires outside the building.
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PROTESTS HAVE BROADENED
In Kiev, scores on both sides have been injured — many with eye
injuries caused by flying projectiles and police rubber bullets.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the capital after
Yanukovich backed away from signing a free trade deal with the
European Union, which many people saw as the key to a European
future, in favor of financial aid from Ukraine's old Soviet master
But the movement has since widened into broader protests against
perceived misrule and corruption in the Yanukovich leadership.
Protesters have been enraged too by sweeping anti-protest
legislation that was rammed through parliament last week by
Yanukovich loyalists in the assembly.
Earlier on Thursday, Yanukovich had suggested he might be prepared
to make concessions to the opposition when he called for a special
session of parliament next week to consider the opposition demands
and find a way out of the crisis.
But this did not impress opposition leaders.
Underlining the level of mistrust between the government and
opposition, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Thursday accused
protesters of trying to stage a coup d'etat and dismissed the
possibility of an early presidential election to resolve the
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden phoned Yanukovich on Thursday and
warned him that failing to de-escalate the standoff could have
"consequences," the White House said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed anger over the way laws
had been rammed through, calling into question basic freedoms, while
French President Francois Hollande called on Ukrainian authorities
to "rapidly seek dialogue".
(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk)
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