Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lens On: Ukraine Ukraine Police Stand Down after Protest Grows

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lens On: Ukraine Ukraine Police Stand Down after Protest Grows

Article excerpt

KIEV, Ukraine -

The withdrawal of riot police from two areas in Ukraine's capital is raising opposition hopes that three weeks of escalating protests have begun to erode police support for President Viktor Yanukovych and his government.

Yuri Lutsenko, a former Interior Minister who is now an opposition leader, declared that the police retreat earlier today shows that "basically only some units remain at the service of the regime."

"This is a great victory," Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of the largest opposition party in parliament, said from the stage at Kiev's central Independence Square, where protesters have set up an extensive protest tent camp manned around the clock.

"I want to calm everyone down - there will be no dispersal of protesters," the current Interior Minister, Vitaly Zakharchenko, said in a statement.

However, his statement did not explain why thousands of helmeted and shield-bearing police were deployed in the first place.

The maneuvers took place as Western diplomats increased their pressure on Mr. Yanukovych to seek a solution to the tensions that have paralyzed this economically troubled nation of 46 million. Protesters want Mr. Yanukovych to dismiss the government, appoint a new one committed to signing an accord with the EU, release all the arrested protesters and punish the police who beat peaceful demonstrators.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met with Mr. Yanukovych today after visiting the protest camp.

"I made it absolutely clear that what happened last night, what is happening in security terms here, is absolutely impermissible in a European state, a democratic state," she said after the talks, standing a few yards away from buses that were blocking the street to the presidential administration building in Kiev, the capital.

It was Mr. …

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