Clashes between protesters and police have erupted as tens of thousands demanded that Kiev sign a landmark trade deal with the EU this week as planned. Ukraine is widely seen to have bowed to pressure from Moscow not to sign the agreement.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainian protesters, angered that Kiev has dropped plans to sign a landmark trade deal with the EU, clashed with police on Sunday as they tried to storm the government building in the capital.
Around 1,000 demonstrators on Monday clashed with police outside government headquarters in Kiev on a second day of major protests against the scrapped EU trade deal.
An AFP reporter said riot police used tear gas to disperse people who tried to enter the building.
Protest leaders said the attempted storming was the work of outside troublemakers.
Protesters waving EU flags tried to break through the police ranks surrounding the building, with some throwing stones and hitting officers with the signs they were carrying, as police fought back with batons and tear gas.
Police estimated attendance at the rally at around 23,000 people while the opposition said more than 100,000 people had turned out.
In the biggest street demonstrations Kiev has seen since the 2004 Orange Revolution, opposition leaders joined calls on President Viktor Yanukovich to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union on November 29 as originally planned.
Yanukovich is widely seen to have bowed to pressure from Moscow not to sign the deal, which is seen as a first step toward eventual EU membership and which would have solidified Kiev’s break from Russia.
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s government stunned European leaders on Thursday by announcing it was suspending preparations for signing the pact after years of negotiations. Azarov said the decision was made to "ensure the national security of Ukraine" after taking into account the effects on trade with Russia.
Moscow reportedly threatened Ukraine that signing the EU deal would have negative consequences on reviving trade and economic talks with Russia.
Ukraine was initially scheduled to sign the pact at an EU summit with Eastern European countries in Lithuania on November 28-29. Kiev announced Thursday that it had stopped the preparations after lawmakers failed to agree on legislation that would free jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a key condition of the EU.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2013-11-24