Ukraine: Protesters cede control of Justice Ministry in Kiev



Radical anti-government protesters were forced to give up their brief occupation of Ukraine’s Justice Ministry on Monday after fellow opposition groups accused them of jeopardising peace negotiations.

The Justice Minister Olena Lukash threatened to declare a state of emergency unless protesters left the ministry they had seized and fortified in the early hours of Monday morning, sparking calls from fellow demonstrators for the group to refrain from escalating the confrontation with authorities.

“I will be forced to ask the President of Ukraine to stop the talks if the building is not freed immediately and negotiators are not given a chance to find a peaceful solution to the conflict,” Ms Lukash told Ukraine’s Inter channel.

The Spilna Sprava (Common Cause) group, which is occupying several buildings in the Ukrainian capital, is just one of several more radical elements within the previously peaceful protest movement and has played a key role in paralysing Kiev city centre.

The political opposition condemned the latest seizure as a step too far, which could potentially jeopardise negotiations to end the political crisis. Three protesters were killed in clashes with police last week, with hundreds more injured.


There have been numerous cases of alleged police brutality and kidnappings reported on both sides. “We denounce these provocative actions that are designed to provoke a state of emergency being called,” said Stepan Kubiv, member of parliament for the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, on Monday. “We are for peace and no more bloodshed.”

Ukraine protests: Arnold Schwarzenegger shows his support for demonstrators in YouTube message posted by Klitschko  

The US ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, tweeted that the storming of the Justice Ministry was “Bad News. Plain and simple… Especially at this key political moment”.

President Viktor Yanukovych has offered to give opposition leaders top government posts, make amendments to the constitution, and allow an amnesty for detained protesters. But the opposition said it would continue to push for further concessions – especially a key demand for early elections, currently scheduled for 2015. A special session of parliament is due to take place today to discuss the crisis.

Ukraine protests: what exactly is going on in Kiev?  

Oleksandr Danylyuk, leader of Spilna Sprava, whose supporters are thought to number in the hundreds, said the group would leave the building, but would maintain a presence outside, ready to storm it again if the opposition’s demands are not met.

“If the demands on [the] restoring of constitutional order, organising of presidential and parliament elections and ceasing terror acts against Ukrainian people are not fulfilled tomorrow, then we will storm all administrative buildings,” Mr Danyliuk warned in a post on his Facebook page, according to the Kyiv Post.

Demonstrations began in Kiev in November after Mr Yanukovich spurned a political and trade agreement with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia. But the protests turned violent over a week ago, after the government introduced tough new anti-protest laws. At least three people have been killed in clashes with police, and hundreds injured.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: New Business Development Manager / Sales - UK New Business

£24000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

Recruitment Genius: Time Served Fabricator / Welders - Immediate Start

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fabricator welder required for ...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific