Police storm Ukraine protest camp

Police storm Ukraine protest camp
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Hundreds of police have stormed a protest camp in the Ukrainian capital, clashing with protesters as they tried to dismantle barricades.

Protesters shouted “Shame!” and “We will stand!” and sang the Ukrainian national anthem.

The storming of the camp at Independence Square came despite a visit by two senior Western diplomats to try to defuse a weeks-long stand-off between the opposition and president Viktor Yanukovych.

The police tried to dismantle barricades surrounding the camp but then moved back after resistance from protesters.

The police took up positions on the perimeters of the camp, then began clashing with demonstrators and trying again to dismantle the barricades.

The protests began in late November when Mr Yanukovych backed away from a deal that would deepen the former Soviet republic’s economic ties with the 28-nation EU – a pact that surveys showed was supported by nearly half the country’s people.

The agreement would make Ukraine more Western-oriented and would be a significant loss of face for Russia, which has either controlled or heavily influenced Ukraine for centuries.

The confrontation at the protest camp unfolded as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland were in the city to try to talk to the government and the opposition and work out a solution.

Earlier yesterday Mr Yanukovych promised that some demonstrators arrested in the massive protests would be released in a bid to defuse the political stand-off which is threatening his leadership.

Mr Yanukovych also vowed to renew talks with the European Union on the trade and political agreement, after his refusal to sign the deal last month prompted the biggest protests since 2004’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution, some drawing hundreds of thousands of people to Kiev’s streets.

Mr Yanukovych indicated he was still prepared to sign the deal at a summit in spring, but only if the EU could offer better financial terms.

“We want to achieve conditions which satisfy Ukraine, Ukrainian producers, the Ukrainian people,” he said in a televised meeting with his three predecessors meant to find a solution to the stand-off.

“If we find understanding and if such compromises are reached, the signature will be put.”

Scuffles broke out between riot police and opposition politicians who arrived to defend the camp.

One protester undressed to his waist, got down on his knees and shouted “Stop this ... We are one people.”

An opposition politician laid down on the snow to try to block a police vehicle from advancing to the camp.

Several protesters were injured. Some policemen helped injured activists up from the ground and moved them away.

Riot police have twice previously dispersed demonstrators with clubs and tear gas, beating some severely enough to send them to intensive care.

More on this topic

Ousted ambassador tells impeachment hearing her removal helped ‘shady interests’Ousted ambassador tells impeachment hearing her removal helped ‘shady interests’

White House: Ukraine aid held up amid Trump push for investigation of DemocratsWhite House: Ukraine aid held up amid Trump push for investigation of Democrats

Far right marchers vent anger at Ukraine’s president over peace planFar right marchers vent anger at Ukraine’s president over peace plan

Ukraine to investigate claims of interference in 2016 US electionUkraine to investigate claims of interference in 2016 US election

More in this Section

Donald Trump warns US poised for ‘a lot of death’ in coming weekDonald Trump warns US poised for ‘a lot of death’ in coming week

Queen to acknowledge Britain’s ‘pain’ in address about coronavirus crisisQueen to acknowledge Britain’s ‘pain’ in address about coronavirus crisis

Keir Starmer to work with UK ministers on coronavirus and rectify ‘mistakes’Keir Starmer to work with UK ministers on coronavirus and rectify ‘mistakes’

British nationals trapped on cruise ship return to UKBritish nationals trapped on cruise ship return to UK


Lifestyle

With documentary film ‘Fantastic Fungi’ set to take the world by storm, Joe McNamee looks at the fabulous world of mushroomsDocumentary explores the magic of mushrooms

I lead a very busy life — I’m a mature student in college — and I separated from my partner but the separation was my decision. I hate myself when it beckons as it ultimately makes me fatter, it has the reverse effectDear Louise: I had my bulimia under control. But the demon has returned

This year has been particularly difficult and stressful, and I think that’s an even more important reason to make time for your health.Derval O'Rourke: Resistance is far from futile and necessary

Best-selling author Faith Hogan is keeping the faith during the lockdown, thanks to her Moy Valley haven in Ballina, Co Mayo.Shape I'm in: Keeping the Faith during lockdown

More From The Irish Examiner