Sunday 25 February 2018

Ukraine's protesters vow to 'finish what we started' as deal is rejected

David Blair in Kiev

UKRAINE'S protesters seized another public building in central Kiev after opposition leaders rejected senior government jobs and promised to "finish what we started".

Security forces fired stun grenades and tear gas as clashes erupted again after the latest attempt by President Viktor Yanukovych to end the mass demonstrations against him ended in failure.

On Saturday night, Mr Yanukovych had met three key opponents and proposed to include them in his government. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the leader of the biggest opposition party in parliament, was offered the job of prime minister. Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion who leads the second biggest bloc, was set to become deputy premier.

CONCESSION

In effect, Mr Yanukovych was offering a power-sharing coalition, amounting to the biggest concession he has yet suggested as he struggles to end the occupation of central Kiev by tens of thousands of demonstrators.

But the protesters want the president to resign and for parliament to repeal a series of security laws that ban most forms of public protest. Mr Yatsenyuk seemed to keep open the option of becoming prime minister, telling the crowd in Independence Square that he was not afraid of "responsibility for Ukraine's future".

However, he later declared there was "no deal", saying: "We're finishing what we started."

DEMANDS

The president's critics are sticking to their demands that he must resign and get rid of the anti-protest laws. In theory, both could happen today when parliament re-assembles.

Meanwhile, the demonstrators tightened their grip on central Kiev. Ukrainian House became the latest public building to fall into their hands. At first, the police took over the large exhibition centre in the early hours of yesterday. But they were spotted and protesters responded by surrounding the building, breaking its windows and pelting police with stones and chunks of ice. Police fired back with tear gas and stun grenades.

The police, heavily outnumbered, eventually agreed a truce and left shortly before dawn. The protesters immediately moved in, fortifying the shattered windows with sacks filled with ice and snow.

They paused this work to pay their respects when a procession passed with the coffin of Mikhail Zhyznevsky, a demonstrator who was killed by the police last Wednesday. Prayers were said for one of the first people to die in the rallies. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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