23 января, 2014 Comments Off on Ukraine protests spread beyond Kiev amid crisis talks

Ukraine protests spread beyond Kiev amid crisis talks

ukrprotest1Daniel Sandford in Kiev: ''Nobody knows how long [Kiev's truce] will hold''

Violent protests in Ukraine have spread beyond the capital, Kiev, ahead of a crisis meeting between President Viktor Yanukovych and three key opposition leaders.

The governor of Lviv, in the west, was forced to sign his resignation as protesters stormed his offices.Other reports spoke of protests in at least four more western cities.Two people died in clashes in Kiev on Wednesday, the first deaths in two months of protests over EU links.The anti-government protests flared in late November over Mr Yanukovych's decision to pull out of a landmark treaty with the European Union.

A fragile truce is currently being observed in Kiev.

However, an opposition ultimatum is set to expire after the talks with Mr Yanukovych, which are set to go into the evening.Ahead of the talks, Mr Yanukovych asked the speaker of parliament to hold an emergency session next week to discuss the crisis.But he told the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, that he would not introduce a state of emergency.Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who is in Davos in Switzerland, echoed this, but added: "People should not think that the government lacks available resources to put an end to this. It is our constitutional right and obligation to restore order in the country."'Coup d'etat'The pro-EU opposition has significant support in Ukraine's western regions.
Attack on the governor's office in Lviv, 23 Jan Protesters storm the governor's offices in Lviv
A burnt barricade in Kiev, 23 Jan A burnt barricade in Kiev
In Lviv, hundreds of protesters stormed the regional governor's office.They forced Oleg Salo to sign his resignation on a piece of paper. "I ask to be freed of my duties," it read.Mr Salo, appointed by Mr Yanukovych, later said he had acted under duress and the resignation was invalid.Ukrainian media said that protesters had also taken over the regional state administration building in Rivne.Other reports spoke of attacks on the governor's offices in Zhytomyr, Khmelnytskiy and Ivano-Frankivsk.On his presidential website, Mr Yanukovych said he had asked the speaker of parliament to hold an emergency session next week. Mr Yanukovych said that his talks with the opposition were "one part of a settlement of the political crisis", while the other part had to take place in parliament."The situation demands immediate settlement," he said.The speaker said the session would discuss opposition calls for the government to step down and recently-passed anti-protest laws.Body in forestBefore heading to his talks with Mr Yanukovych, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urged both the protesters and police in Kiev to refrain from any further use of force until he reported back on Thursday evening.He is bringing three main demands to the talks: a snap presidential election, the cancellation of the new anti-protest laws and the resignation of the government.

Addressing protesters on Wednesday, he said the president could end the stand-off "without bloodshed". Otherwise, he added, "we will go on the attack".

Mr Azarov said opposition leaders should be "more humble" and "move away from the language of ultimatums".Russian news agencies quoted him as saying that "a genuine attempt at a coup d'etat is being carried out".The centre of the capital remains extremely tense, the BBC's Daniel Sandford reports.Hundreds of protesters and scores of police officers have been injured in clashes around Kiev's Independence Square this week.Officials confirmed two bodies were found with bullet wounds close to the scene of clashes on Wednesday.One of those killed was identified as Serhiy Nihoyan, the 20-year-old son of Armenian refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh, who travelled from his home in eastern Ukraine in December to join the protests.The other man shot was named as Belarusian citizen Mikhail Zhyznewski, who was at the protest with Una-Unso, a Ukrainian far-right group.Mr Azarov denied that police were responsible for the deaths, saying they were not carrying live ammunition.A third activist, Yuriy Verbytsky, has been found dead in a forest outside Kiev, after reportedly being abducted this week. His body is said to bear signs of torture.The BBC's Duncan Crawford spoke to a student, Mikhail Nizkoguz, 17, who accused riot police of dragging him from the street on Monday and torturing him by beating and stabbing.His face and body is covered with cuts and bruises. He said police accused him of firing fireworks at them - but that he was only taking pictures.A police press spokesperson in Kiev told the BBC they know nothing about any cases of alleged torture.
Are you in Kiev? Do you have a question about the current situation? Our correspondent David Stern will answer a selection of your questions in a Twitter Q&A at 1530 GMT on Thursday (1730 local) Send your questions using the form below or tweet them to @bbcworldservice using the #AskBBCDavid
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