Ukraine braces for more violent clashes

 

Ukraine is likely to face more violence as an ultimatum set by the Western-backed opposition for President Viktor Yanukovych is to expire soon with no sign of a compromise.

Late on Wednesday, the three main Ukrainian opposition leaders called on their supporters to refrain from engaging in more protests for another 24 hours, at the end of which their ultimatum to the president expires.

Opposition demands Yanukovych to dismiss the government, call early elections, and cancel a legislation that curbs mass protests.

The approval of the law sparked violent clashes in central Kiev, with opposition protesters hurling fire bombs and stones at security forces. Police retaliated by using stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets, killing five protesters, according to the opposition movement’s medical sources.

The fatalities are the first in two months of anti-government protests, which broke out after Yanukovych refrained from signing an association agreement with the EU at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, in late November 2013, in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Kiev and Moscow reached a strategic economic and trade deal last December, which provides Ukraine with significant discounts on imported Russian gas and billions of dollars in credit.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also warned that the situation in Ukraine was “getting out of control” and urged dialogue between all the parties.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has voiced regret over foreign interference in Ukraine, telling Komsomolskaya Pravda in an interview published Thursday, “We feel regret and indignation about the obvious foreign interference in the developments in Kiev.”[Press TV]