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Anti-government protesters block Ukraine's Central Bank

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Demonstrators blocked public buildings, including Ukraine's Central Bank, in Kiev Wednesday after lawmakers the day before defeated a no-confidence vote.

Protesters have occupied Independence Square and erected a barricade near one entrance to the presidential administration building, the New York Times reported.

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The Times said the Central Bank seemed unprotected Wednesday as smoke from fires wafted about and men stood in front of the main doors.

One man told the Times bank employees had "gone to Bermuda to be with their money."

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The failure of the no-confidence vote on President Viktor Yanukovych's government pushed the battle for the country's future back to the streets. Demonstrations began last week when Yanokovych didn't sign political and trade agreements with the European Union. He said Ukraine's economy would suffer under the deals and that he would pursue partnerships with Russia.

Demonstrators already had blocked the Cabinet Ministry, as well as seized Kiev's city building and two other buildings near Independence Square.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Kiev charged nine demonstrators with organizing mass unrest in a violent activist confrontation with police during the weekend that left many injured on both sides, the newspaper said.

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In a speech to Parliament before Tuesday's no-confidence vote, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov again apologized for the police's role in the violence and said an investigation had begun that would hold those responsible accountable.

He also warned that any violence would be answered, the Times said.

"We will give you a hand," Azarov said. "If we see a fist, we have enough force."

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Inside the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, opposition leaders vowed to block the parliamentary platform until the government is dismissed and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is released from prison, where she is serving a sentence on a corruption conviction, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

"Our ... key demands for the parliament are the government's resignation and the termination of political persecutions and [former Ukrainian Prime Minister] Yulia Tymoshenko's release," Batkivschyna Party official Arseniy Yatseniuk said during a news conference in Kiev Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Yanukovych's Party of the Regions said in a statement Tuesday it was rallying supporters to ensure the government remained in operation, RIA Novosti reported.

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"Kiev is not the capital of the opposition, it is the capital of our whole country," the party statement said.

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