Demonstrators call for Ukraine's government to resign

Dec. 2, 2013 at 10:17 AM
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KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Anti-government protesters squatted in a Kiev plaza Monday, demanding Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych resign and European Union trade pact work resume.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Kiev Sunday in the largest demonstration since Yanukovych's decision not to sign a much-anticipated series of trade agreements with the European Union last month, RIA Novosti reported.

At the time, Ukraine's government explained its change of heart by saying country's economy would suffer under the EU accords and pledged focus on strengthening ties with Russia.

Also Monday, several thousand people marched on the Cabinet Ministry and called for the resignation of the government's leaders, The New York Times reported.

Parliamentary leaders had closed-door discussions on Ukraine's political future and to formulate a response, given the erosion in Yanukovych's support in the government and apparently among the Ukraine's wealthiest businessmen, the Times said.

Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Rybak said Monday he did not envision a declaration of a state of emergency.

"The issue today is not considered at any level," Rybak said during a media briefing. "I do not see the necessity."

Rybak instead called for "round-table" meetings to resolve the crisis.

He also refused demands by opposition lawmakers to hold a vote calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and the rest of the government.

Several of the opposition leaders in Parliament are orchestrating the protest in partnership with a coalition of civic activists, the Times said. Inna Bohoslovska, a lawmaker who left Yanukovych's Party of Regions to support the demonstrations, called for the government to resign Monday.

Demonstrators also occupy City Hall in Kiev, where windows were smashed and walls painted with graffiti.

Authorities reported Sunday about 100 police officers and more than 50 protesters were injured, including some with burns to their eyes from tear gas. Witnesses said some protesters, including women, had been beaten.

The police said arrests were made but did not immediately release the number.

Demonstrations in other cities also were reported.

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