Ukraine’s opposition will hold talks tomorrow with government officials after massive street demonstrations against President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of a European Union trade pact paralyzed the capital city.
Opponents of the administration of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov also stepped up calls for the government to resign, demanded demonstrators not be prosecuted for their actions and urged the arrest of police who have used violence. They also said 10 protesters are missing and urged the prosecutor general’s office to investigate.
“We are widening our protests,” said Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the head of jailed ex-Premier Yulia Tymoshenko’s party at a press conference in Kiev. “After talks in parliament today, the prospect of which didn’t look very good, we announced a political package.”
Demonstrations have escalated against Yanukovych’s rejection of the EU agreement in favor of closer ties with Russia. Ukraine, an essential energy transit route between the two, is seeking financial aid as its economy struggles to exit a third recession since 2008 and its foreign reserves languish at the lowest level in seven years.
At Independence Square, the focal point of the 2004 Orange Revolution, groups of protesters sat around fires set in oil barrels to warm themselves in sub-zero temperatures.
A yellow and blue banner demanding the release of former Premier Yulia Tymoshenko was set up next to a stage where speakers were encouraging demonstrators.
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