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Kiev court gives protesters 5 days to clear building blockades

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Anti-government protesters have five days to end their blockade of administrative buildings in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, a court ruled.

Kiev Police Chief Valeriy Mazan, who was present when the court ruling was announced Wednesday, said the court's decision must be executed within five days by the protesters or the police would fulfill the court ruling, Interfax-Ukraine reported Thursday.

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Several hundred demonstrators shouted "shame" when the ruling was announced.

On Thursday, a convoy of cars driven by demonstrators blocked vehicular access to the headquarters of the Berkut, the special riot police involved in a violent crackdown on the protesters Saturday, the New York Times reported.

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Mazan declined to say whether police would use force to disperse the protesters if the buildings aren't unblocked by the end of the five-day period.

"They [the protesters] should ensure the operation of government institutions," he said.

UNIAN, the Ukraine news agency, said about 12,000 protesters were in Kiev Thursday.

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Meanwhile, Serhiy Arbuzov, Ukraine's first vice prime minister, has called for negotiations to end the standoff with protesters demanding the resignation of the government and President Viktor Yanukovych, hinting the government would be open to discussing the possibility of early elections, the Times reported.

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Arbuzov did not give assurances that snap elections would occur during an interview on a Ukrainian television station Wednesday.

"I'm saying that we should negotiate, sit down at the negotiating table," Arbuzov said. "I admit that when we sit down at the negotiating table, such proposals may be heard."

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The presidential election is February 2015 and the next regular parliamentary elections are in 2017.

Demonstrators have occupied public buildings and a landmark plaza in Kiev since late last month, when Yanukovych reversed course and decided not to sign political and trade agreements with the European Union, saying the agreements would hurt Ukraine's economy. Instead, he said he'd pursue building relationships with Russia.

The country's parliament this week defeated a motion for a no-confidence vote in the government and Yanukovych is on a state visit to China.

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Several legislative leaders and the country's three former presidents have called for round-table talks on the situation.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, whose resignation also is being sought by demonstrators, said during the opening of a conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Kiev that all decisions about the political future of the country should be made at the ballot box.

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"Our opinion is that all issues related to the governing authorities should be resolved exclusively during elections," Azarov said. "We recognize the protests. We are ready for dialogue. But this dialogue must be peaceful and we made it clear to our opponents that there are democratic electoral procedures."

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