Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Anti-government protesters use a sledge hammer to destroy a statue of Russian communist revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin on Sunday in Kiev.
Anti-government protesters use a sledge hammer to destroy a statue of Russian communist revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin on Sunday in Kiev. Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Hundreds of riot police have stormed an anti-government camp in the capital's Independence Square, with police dismantling barricades amid shouts of "Shame!" and "We will stand!" from protesters.
As we reported on Monday, it follows a similar move by police against a protester camp near City Hall.
The protests began late last month after President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from an agreement to strengthen economic ties with the 28-nation European Union — a pact that enjoyed the support of roughly half of the people in the former Soviet republic.
By moving closer to the EU, Ukraine would have weakened links with Russia, which has dominated the region for centuries.
The Associated Press says:
"The confrontation at the protest camp unfolded as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. 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."
The police crackdown comes as Yanukovych meets with former Ukrainian presidents Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko for a "round table" discussion apparently aimed at figuring a way out of the political crisis.
The New York Times says:
"Senior envoys including the European foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, and an assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, arrived in Kiev to convey the message from Western governments that the protests should not be dispersed violently."
"The renewed diplomatic maneuvering was intended to prevent a repeat of the bloodshed during a crackdown by the police in Kiev on Nov. 30, and to contain the widening civil uprising, which has plunged the nation into deep uncertainty."