Newspaper article International New York Times

Protesters in Kiev Try to Block Government ; after Overnight Violence, Opposition Demands Talks with President Directly

Newspaper article International New York Times

Protesters in Kiev Try to Block Government ; after Overnight Violence, Opposition Demands Talks with President Directly

Article excerpt

Overnight violence appeared to be the worst in at least a month for the Ukrainian protest movement, as the country's political crisis deepened.

Protesters in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, used the charred shells of police vans burned in a riot the night before to erect new barricades on Monday on a street leading to the city's government quarter. Fighting between protesters and the police continued through the day after a weekend demonstration, which was called in part to protest new laws limiting public assembly, turned violent.

Yuri V. Lutsenko, an opposition leader, said the protesters would revive a tactic from mid-December of fortifying streets leading to government buildings to hobble the work of the cabinet and the presidential administration.

"The siege of the government quarter will only intensify," Mr. Lutsenko said.

By early afternoon, it was unclear whether a meeting between an aide to President Viktor F. Yanukovich and opposition leaders, intended to ease tensions in the capital, would take place as planned. Vitali Klitschko, who leads the political party Punch, said the opposition would only meet with Mr. Yanukovich directly, rather than with the director of the national security council, as suggested by the government.

During a rally in Kiev on Sunday, protesters attacked the police with sticks and threw firecrackers at them, while the officers responded with tear gas. The violence appeared to be the worst in at least a month for the continuing protest movement in Ukraine, and it signified a deepening of the political crisis in the country, the most populous former Soviet state apart from Russia.

Protests began in November, after the government of Mr. Yanukovich declined to sign a sweeping free-trade agreement with the European Union. He later negotiated a package of financial aid from Russia.

The fighting broke out on a side street leading to Parliament and near Independence Square, which has been the center of the protests. …

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