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Riot police dismantle barricades in Kiev

© AFP

Video by Aurore Cloe DUPUIS

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-09

Riot police dismantled barricades set up by demonstrators around government buildings in Ukraine’s capital Kiev on Monday, as protests against President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to abandon a deal with the European Union continued.

Ukrainian riot police dismantled barricades set up by demonstrators around government buildings in the capital Kiev on Monday, amid ongoing protests against President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to abandon a deal with the European Union.

As riot police took up new positions in the city, heavyweight boxing champion turned opposition leader and politician Vitaly Klitschko called on the demonstrators to stand their ground, and warned Yanukovich that he would have blood on his hands if security forces tried to end the standoff violently.

Klitschko later tweeted that some protest barricades were being taken down by police in a southern part of the city. Across town, police dismantled protestor’s tents to free the main road near government buildings and herded protesters back.

FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reports from Ukraine's capital Kiev

“It seems as though the authorities are trying to regain control of Kiev’s city centre, though perhaps not actually Independence Square itself, which is the hub of these protests,” FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reported from Kiev. “At the moment, the barricades around Independence Square are still standing, people are still in the square – thousands of people – the music is still playing.”

Armed masked men also raided the party headquarters of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, taking a computer server, spokeswoman Natalia Lysova said. Lysova blamed the incident on the police, who promptly denied any involvement.

“There’s a great sense of anticipation and also fear really among the protesters as to whether they are going to storm the square,” Cragg reported.

Yanukovich backs talks with opposition

Earlier in the day, Yanukovich attempted to defuse tensions by agreeing to “national round-table” talks with the opposition, an idea proposed by the country’s first post-Soviet president Leonid Kravchuk.

Klitschko welcomed Yanukovich’s support for the initiative, saying that he and other opposition leaders were ready to meet with the embattled president to discuss a possible compromise.

“I am sure that the current government must resign ... We have announced our demands more than once and in relation to this we are ready to talk with Yanukovich because no one else is making decisions,” Klitschko told the Reuters news agency.

Ukraine’s economy takes a hit

The political turmoil in Ukraine has taken its toll on the country’s economy, with short-term interest rates jumping to one-year highs on Monday. Foreign currency reserves, which have fallen steadily as the central bank tries to prop up the hryvnia currency, also slid further last month.

The central bank reported last Friday that the reserves fell at the end of November to $18.791 billion from $20.632 billion a month earlier.

One-week, one-month and three-month Ukrainian money market rates soared to their highest in a year. One-week rates rose to 16 percent, according to Reuters data, up from 7 percent on Friday, and 3.5 percent a week ago.

However, the hryvnia currency hit six-week highs in the spot market on Monday. “The central bank has been intervening but it is becoming more aggressive now,” said Ishitaa Sharma, emerging markets strategist at Citi.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-12-09

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