Protesters clash with riot police in Ukrainian capital
Protesters clashed with riot police in the Ukrainian capital after tough anti-protest legislation, which the political opposition says paves the way for a police state, was rushed through parliament last week.
A group of young masked demonstrators attacked a police cordon with sticks and tried to overturn a bus blocking their way to the parliament building yesterday after opposition politicians called on people to disregard the new legislation.
Despite appeals from opposition leaders not to resort to violence, and a personal intervention from boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, protesters continued to throw smoke bombs and hurl fireworks and other objects at police.
The police appeared to show restraint during that fracas. The interior ministry said 30 police were hurt, including more than 10 admitted to hospital and four in serious condition.
A spokeswoman for Mr Klitschko tweeted that President Viktor Yanukovich had agreed to meet Mr Klitschko immediately at the presidential residence outside Kiev, although there was no confirmation from Mr Yanukovich's side.
Mr Klitschko later tweeted that the president had agreed to set up a committee today to settle the political crisis.
Police used water cannon against demonstrators gathered near the parliament building and government headquarters, eyewitnesses said. Earlier, some distance away from the clashes, up to 100,000 Ukrainians massed on Kiev's Independence Square in defiance of the sweeping new laws, which ban rallies and which Washington and other Western capitals have denounced as undemocratic.
The rally, the biggest of the new year, was the latest in a cycle of public protests in the former Soviet republic since Yanukovich made a policy U-turn in November away from the European Union towards Russia, Ukraine's former Soviet overlord.