Ukraine protesters take over mayor's office and set up 'Revolution HQ'

Protesters have taken over several buildings in Kiev after the president scrapped a deal with the EU in favour of closer relations with Russia.


Protesters clash with police in Kiev. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

INSIDE THE KIEV mayor’s office today, a group of protesters prepared food, while doctors treated the wounded and several young activists lay sprawled asleep on the floor.

The words “Revolution headquarters” have been spray-painted in black across the building, one of several in the centre of the Ukraine capital that have been taken over by protesters.

They occupied the mayor’s office on Sunday after more than 100,000 people gathered to vent their fury at President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to scrap a deal with the European Union in favour of closer relations with Russia.

“This is a place to have a rest, to eat and to get your strength back,” said Pyotr, a 17-year-old with dark circles round his eyes.

imageProtesters resting in the Kiev City Council building today. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Tatyana, 55, had come with her 16-year-old daughter, Yulia, who was playing truant from school.

Sitting at the entrance to the building, the two women were making placards for the demonstrators and writing down the contact details of volunteers.

“I will stay here till the end”

“People are signing up. They are offering their services,” said Tatyana, saying that she had drawn up a list of 1,000 people’s contact details, including doctors.

“I will stay here till the end. We went back home for a couple of hours and then came back. We need to change things. I can’t go to work or stay at home, it’s impossible!” she said, adding that she felt “ashamed” of Yanukovych.

imageProtesters in Kiev on Sunday (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

On Saturday, riot police violently evicted protesters camping on Independence Square, injuring dozens. Nearly 200 were wounded yesterday in more violent clashes in central Kiev.

Tatiana said she was shocked by the violence and now wanted the president to stand down and for early elections to take place, while she had initially just wanted to protest against the decision to scrap the signing of an Association Agreement with the European Union.

“Tomorrow I’ll come back here”

Some protesters had travelled from other Ukrainian cities, such as Vassen, 30, who had arrived the previous morning from Ivano-Frankivsk, in Western Ukraine.

“I came to change things and make them better,” he said, visibly exhausted after spending the night on Independence Square.

imageProtesters cover an entrance to the Cabinet of Ministers with a huge EU flag in Kiev today. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

In the main room of the mayor’s office, dozens of activists slept on the floor while doctors tended to the wounded.

“With all this tear-gas, a lot of them are complaining of sore eyes,” said Vladimir, an anaesthetist who was working as a volunteer.

“Today is my rest day at the hospital, but maybe tomorrow I’ll take a day off or even maybe two to come back here,” he said.

- © AFP, 2013

Read: Clashes rage as 100,00 Ukrainians protest in Kiev >

Read: Jailed Ukranian opposition leader goes on hunger strike as protests continue >

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