Opposition hopes for talks amid Kiev clashes
Kiev: A top opposition leader headed for talks with the Ukrainian President on Tuesday after yet another night of violent street clashes between anti-government protesters and police.
Ukraine`s two-month-long political crisis has shifted into a new phase after President Viktor Yanukovych pushed through harsh anti-protest laws last week that were widely seen as an attempt to quash the demonstrations calling for his ouster.
The massive protests in Kiev, the capital, erupted after Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favour of close ties with Russia, which offered him a USD 15 billion bailout.
Seeing the government ignore their demands and opposition leaders unable to present a coherent plan or even select a single leader, radical protesters have clashed with riot police in Kiev since Sunday, hurling stones and fire bombs at police and getting hit with tear gas and rubber bullets in return.
"A revolution is under way in Ukraine," said Petro Denkovets, 34, an entrepreneur. "What revolution takes place peacefully? Each side is showing its strengths. The government, its troops, and we, our fearlessness."
Despite heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, some 2,000 people confronted riot police today outside a government district in Kiev. The protesters had managed to hold their ground overnight even as police moved in to dismantle some barricades.
Still, nearly 1,500 activists sought medical help after the clashes, according to Oleh Musiy, who runs the protesters` medical team.
Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had previously condemned violent protests, said the situation has changed. "People have received the right to switch from peaceful to non-peaceful protest because the deafness of the authorities and their disregard for the people," he said today.
His ally, the jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, also urged Ukrainians to go to the barricades. "There is no other way for the people to deal with the mafia. Those standing on the front lines for Ukraine are heroes!" Tymoshenko said in a statement.
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