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Europe

Riot police break up protest in Ukraine capital

© Screen grab

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-30

Riot police in Ukraine’s capital Kiev used batons and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of pro-European Union protesters camped in the city’s main Independence Square early on Saturday, witnesses said.

Riot police in Ukraine’s capital Kiev forcefully dispersed hundreds of pro-European Union demonstrators in the city’s main Independence Square early on Saturday.

Police moved in on protesters who were still camped on the square following bigger demonstrations on Friday night against President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision not to sign a landmark trade agreement with the European Union.

Witnesses said police first fired stun grenades at the crowds and then moved in, using batons to disperse them, chasing some protesters into nearby streets.

At 5am on Saturday, part of the square was sealed off by black-helmeted riot police. A total of 35 people were detained for resisting police, the interior ministry said.

Tension had been building in Kiev since Friday, when Yanukovich walked away from signing the pact with EU leaders at a summit in Lithuania, going back on a pledge to work toward integrating his ex-Soviet republic into the European mainstream.

He said the cost of upgrading the economy to meet EU standards was too great and added that economic dialogue with Russia, Ukraine’s former Soviet master, would be revived.

On Friday night, at least four people were beaten by police, including a cameraman and a photographer for the Reuters news agency.

The Interfax news agency reported that police had decided to clear Independence Square after “a number of incidents”.

An estimated 10,000 people took part in Friday night’s demonstrations, during which heavyweight boxing-champion-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko said Yanukovich had dashed the aspirations of Ukrainians to join mainstream Europe.

“Today they stole our dream, our dream of living in a normal country,” said Klitschko, a contender for the 2015 presidential election. “The failure to sign the agreement of association is treason.”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-11-30

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