International

Protesters In Ukraine Vow To Step Up Pressure On Government

Ukrainian opposition activists on Sunday carry the coffin of their comrade Mikhail Zhiznevsky, killed during anti-government protests, in downtown Kiev, Ukraine. i i

Ukrainian opposition activists on Sunday carry the coffin of their comrade Mikhail Zhiznevsky, killed during anti-government protests, in downtown Kiev, Ukraine. Maxim Shipenkov/EPA/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Maxim Shipenkov/EPA/Landov
Ukrainian opposition activists on Sunday carry the coffin of their comrade Mikhail Zhiznevsky, killed during anti-government protests, in downtown Kiev, Ukraine.

Ukrainian opposition activists on Sunday carry the coffin of their comrade Mikhail Zhiznevsky, killed during anti-government protests, in downtown Kiev, Ukraine.

Maxim Shipenkov/EPA/Landov

Anti-government protesters clashed with security forces overnight in the Ukraine capital, Kiev. The latest violence comes a day after embattled President Viktor Yanukovych tried unsuccessfully to quell unrest by offering top political posts to the opposition.

Yanukovych offered on Saturday to hand over two key posts to opposition leaders, but the offer was swiftly rebuffed.

Voice of America reports:

"On Saturday in Kyiv's Independence Square, Arseniy Yatsenyuk told a crowd of protesters the opposition is 'not afraid' of accepting more political responsibility. He said, however, that President Yanukovych must still meet several key opposition demands and that talks will continue.

"Earlier, Mr. Yanukovych offered the job of prime minister to Yatsenyuk, and the post of deputy prime minister to former boxer Vitaly Klitschko. The move came a day after the president agreed to reshuffle his government and amend controversial new anti-protest laws."

Early Sunday, VOA adds, "a large crowd of protesters blocked a government building with police inside ... in central Kyiv. Demonstrators threw stones and smoke bombs. Police responded with stun grenades and tear gas."

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Kiev that hundreds of riot police were deployed inside the cultural center.

"Klitschko helped broker a solution so the police could leave the building," Corey says. "Meanwhile, the opposition says it's ready to keep negotiating with ... Yanukovych, but that the concessions he's offering don't go far enough."

Three people were killed in clashes on Wednesday. Corey says tens of thousands of people turned out Sunday in the capital to honor one of the three activists who died. A coffin containing the body of 25-year-old Mikhail Zhiznevsky was carried from St. Michael's cathedral through the city's main square.

The Associated Press writes:

"The protests began in late November after Yanukovych shelved a long-awaited agreement to deepen ties with the European Union, but they have been increasingly gripped by people seeking more radical action, even as moderate opposition leaders have pleaded for the violence to end. ..."

"About half of Ukraine's people [favor] deeper integration with the EU, according to polls, and many Ukrainians widely resent Russia's long influence over the country."

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