Kiev protesters call for interior minister's resignation

Jan. 13, 2014 at 12:07 PM

KIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Ukrainian protesters said Monday they wanted the country's interior minister to resign because of the crackdown on demonstrators in November.

A November decision by the Ukrainian government to suspend efforts to sign free trade and association agreements with the European Union sparked widespread protests in Ukraine.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said demonstrators called Monday for the resignation of Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and top security officials. Protesters blocked the entrance to the building housing the ministry, RIA Novosti said.

Law enforcement officials were criticized by members of the European Union for using force against demonstrators in November.

Deputy Interior Minister Viktor Ratushniak was quoted by the National News Agency of Ukraine as saying force was necessary after "radical activists" damaged a bus carrying police to Kiev during weekend protests.

"To ensure the enforcement of the judgment, the law enforcers had every reason to use force," he said Saturday.

Weekend protests were the first major rallies in Kiev since the November demonstrations.

The Ukrainian government said it was protecting its economic interests with Russia in making the decision to back away from the European Union.

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