Defiant Pro-EU Protesters in Kiev Rebuild Barricades

World | December 11, 2013, Wednesday // 19:30|  views


Despite the overnight crackdown by authorities, pro-EU protesters in downtown Kiev have rebuilt their barricades Wednesday

Earlier, police and the special unit Berkut abandoned their attempt to remove by force antigovernment demonstrators from their tent camps and barricades in the Ukrainian capital, saying they were trying to free up a passage through Independence square for traffic.

Protesters used hoses to fire icy water at the police. Those who have occupied the City Hall headquarters have poured liquid soap and cooking oil on the steps of the building to prevent the special units from attacking them.

Police then pulled back from the main camp on Independence Square.

Protesters in hard hats locked arms to form human walls to try to resist the police push. At least nine people were detained. The Interior Ministry said 10 policemen were hurt.

It's not clear how many protesters were injured in the clashes. City officials put the number at 30, while Health Minister Raisa Bogatyryova reported 13 were hurt.

"I want everyone to calm down. There will be no storming of the square. No one will violate your rights to protest peacefully, but do not ignore the rights... of other citizens," said Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko in a statement.

It was also reported that people from Western Ukraine are flocking to the capital to support the demonstrations, while subway drivers are defying police orders and are transporting protesters to the city's center.

The rallies were sparked by the government's refusal to sign a deal on closer ties with the European Union.

The U-turn followed pressure from Russia, which has said Ukraine's free trade deal with the EU will flood the Russian market.

The crackdown provoked strong criticism from Western leaders.

"It was a tough conversation, but it was a realistic one. I made it absolutely clear to him that what happened last night, what has been happening in security terms here, is absolutely impermissible in a European state, in a democratic state. But we also made clear that we believe there is a way out for Ukraine, that it is still possible to save Ukraine's European future and that is what we want to see the President lead," US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, said, citied by CNN, after a two-hour meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

CNN further reports that a picture posted to Twitter by the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoff Pyatt, showed Nuland handing out food earlier Wednesday to security forces and protesters in the square.

US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the authorities' crackdown on protesters.

"The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kiev's Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity. This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy," he said.

Kerry urged the "utmost restraint" by the authorities, saying "human life must be protected."

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "deeply concerned" about the Ukraine government's decision to send in riot police against peaceful protesters.

The police crackdown came only hours after EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held lengthy talks with Yanukovych and visited the protest site in the central square.

"I was among you on Maidan in the evening and was impressed by the determination of Ukrainians demonstrating for the European perspective of their country. Some hours later I observe with sadness that police uses force (to) remove peaceful people from Kiev center," she said.

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Tags: Ukraine, Kiev, Viktor Yanukovich, Catherine Ashton, Victoria Nuland, riot, police, Independence square, Russia, Maidan, John Kerry, William Hague


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