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April 23, 2014
Monday, December 2, 2013

Ukraine opposition blocks government offices in call for general strike

People shout slogans and wave flags of Ukraine and the European Union during a rally of the opposition on Independence Square in Kiev.
Ukrainian protesters blockaded the main government building today, trying to bring down President Viktor Yanukovich with a general strike after hundreds of thousands demonstrated against his decision to abandon an EU integration pact.

Demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday, which saw violent clashes with the police, drew as many as 350,000 people, the biggest public rally in the ex-Soviet state since the "orange revolution" overturned a stolen election nine years ago.

Yanukovich's decision to abandon a trade pact with the European Union and instead seek closer economic ties with Russia has stirred deep passions in a country where many people yearn to join the European mainstream and escape Moscow's orbit.

"We have no other choice but to defend ourselves and the gains we have made," said Taras Revunets, a protester at Kiev's city hall, which hundreds of demonstrators occupied on Sunday and have turned into an operational hub.

He said the protesters could not rule out a government military crackdown, but were prepared to endure it.

Thousands of protesters listened to music and strolled through the city centre behind makeshift barricades they had erected overnight from city benches, commandeered police barriers and parts of a giant artificial Christmas tree.

Traffic was cut off in central Kiev but pedestrians still shopped and walked to work. Opposition figures made speeches at a central stage erected across from Independence Square. Orthodox Christian priests said prayers for the injured.

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Tags:  Ukraine  opposition  strike  protests  clashes  


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