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Ukraine opposition vows 'to go on offensive' if demands not met

 
 
 
 
 
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Ukrainian opposition leaders have threatened to “go on the offensive”, if the president does not respond to the demands in the wake of Wednesday’s talks not yielding any results. Meanwhile, rioters remain in central Kiev, causing unrest and damage.

“Tomorrow if the president does not respond … then we will go on the offensive,” said Vitaly Klitschko, one of the leaders, addressing the thousands of protesters on Independence Square, Maidan.

Following the three-hour long meeting with the President Victor Yanukovich, opposition leaders said there had been no positive response from the president to their demands, which include lifting the anti-riot laws, the government stepping down and an early ballot.

Yanukovich offered to “continue talks regarding the laws tomorrow,” the opposition Fatherland party leader Arseny Yatsenuk said.

However, the opposition is still urging protesters not to leave the square, to defend it and also to prepare for a police offensive against them.

“Today they (the police) are preparing to clear us out of the ‘Maidan’ (Independence Square),” Klitschko said. “We must do all we can to stop them clearing us out.”

Thousands of protesters remain in Grushchevskovo Street, the scene of intensive confrontation with “radical anti-government activists” in the vicinity of the Ukrainian parliament building. Rioters continue to burn tires, smash up streets and erect barricades.

Throughout the evening, police have been holding their line, attempting to put out fires with water cannons. After four days of protests, the center of the Ukrainian capital continues to resemble a warzone, with smoke, barricades, and debris all around.

Wednesday’s clashes between rioters and police intensified in the afternoon after riot police cleared Grushchevskovo Street.

Footage from the Ukrainian capital showed hundreds of police officers using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades against the protesters, in what is believed to be the largest dispersal to take place since the latest outbreak of violence began. Some clashes involved policemen snatching individual rioters from the crowd and brutally beating them.

Demonstrators responded with an intense barrage of stones and Molotov cocktails, briefly disrupting police advancement. Berkut special police forces were forced to retreat due to heavy smoke from burning tires.

Two protesters have been killed and hundreds of others wounded during the past four days of clashes. Almost 200 officers have sustained injuries.

Shocking footage showed rioters armed with sticks and flares attacking cordons of security forces surrounding government buildings. Donned in orange helmets, the protesters threw stones, debris, and Molotovs directly at police.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs published a video showing a group of officers being suddenly attacked from behind a fence on Monday.

Petrol bombs are being thrown in the middle of the cordons, settling police uniforms on fire.

As tensions continued to run high in the violent standoff in Kiev on Wednesday, some police officers were seen throwing Molotov cocktails at crowds of protesters.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov said on Wednesday that police were not given any additional instructions on the use of force against the protesters. Conversely, procedures now in place ensure the minimal use of force against only the most violent rioters. “Instructions given to law enforcement authorities were simple: avoid the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and prevent violent seizure of government buildings and institutions,” Azarov said in the BBC interview.

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