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Protesters attack 'Ukrainian House' in Kiev
Protesters attack 'Ukrainian House' in Kiev
Image: Sergei Grits/AP/Press Association Images

Kiev protesters seize police base after opposition leaders reject offer

‘Euromaiden’ demonstrators seized the building in an early morning raid as fresh clashes erupted in the Ukrainian capital.
Jan 26th 2014, 7:19 AM 5,313 28

PROTESTERS IN THE Ukrainian capital Kiev have ousted special police forces from a flashpoint building in the city after storming the premises in new clashes this morning.

Ukrainian television said that around 200 police forces left the Ukrainian House in central Kiev, a Soviet-era exhibition hall used by troops as a base, by a side entrance.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry confirmed that the forces had withdrawn to avoid a further spike in tensions with the opposition which have seen at least three protesters killed in clashes according to the authorities.

“The ministry’s leadership decided to withdraw the reserve unit of security forces from the building,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

It said protesters had wanted to blockade the security forces inside and then exchange them for activists taken prisoner during Ukraine’s political crisis.

“The security forces did not give into provocations, gave no reason for an escalation and showed restraint,” the statement added.

Ukrainian opposition leader and world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who was present at the scene, confirmed the building had been taken.

“The task has been accomplished. The Ukranian House has been taken without bloodshed,” the Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted him as saying.

Television pictures showed that hundreds of protesters were still at the scene but the situation was calm.

Klitschko said that the protesters did not plan to use the building but would guard its entrances so police did not return.

The Ukrainian House, once the site of a Lenin museum in Soviet times, is a largely empty exhibition centre that was being used by security forces during the crisis.

It is close to the frontline of the clashes on Grushevsky Street which was also largely calm on Sunday morning, AFP correspondents said.

The overnight clashes at the Ukrainian House came after opposition leaders vowed to keep up protests despite an offer of concessions by President Viktor Yanukovych to end the crisis.

image

Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko gives instructions to protesters prior to seizing the Ukrainian House [Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images]

President Viktor Yanukovych offered yesterday to give the post of prime minister to the opposition and end the long-running dispute.

“Our demand is the holding of presidential elections this year… We will not yield but talks will continue,” Klitschko told protesters last night — some of whom whistled in impatience.

Presidential elections are currently only due in early 2015.

Nationalist leader Oleg Tyagnybok, the head of the right wing Svoboda (Freedom) party told the protesters that “the fight continues” and urged everyone in Ukraine to come to Independence Square to protest.

imageMedics transport an injured protester during the attack on the Ukrainian House [Evgeny Feldman/AP/Press Association Images]

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the head of the Fatherland party who was offered the PM post, gave no clear direct response to the proposal in his speech.

He said the opposition was prepared to take on responsibility but added: “The people will determine the power in Ukraine. We will not step down from our position.”

He added that the opposition did not believe “one the word” of what the authorities say and would only accept actions.

Yanukovych’s proposal to let the opposition head the government and also change the constitution is the most serious attempt yet to end the crisis.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Opposition leader offered PM job in bid to end Kiev violence

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