Ukraine protests: Riot police storm offices of opposition party in Kiev

 

Heavily armed riot troops broke into the offices of a top Ukrainian opposition party office in Kiev tonight as anti-government protests crippled the capital for yet another day.

Elsewhere police dismantled or blocked off several small protest tent camps near key national government buildings in the city.

Tensions also rose as a double cordon of riot police deployed in the street near Kiev's city administration building, which demonstrators had occupied and turned into a makeshift command post and dormitory.

The moves came a day after hundreds of thousands of demonstrators crammed into Kiev, the biggest in three weeks of protests that started when Ukraine's president backed away from signing a long -awaited pact to deepen ties with the 28-nation European Union.

Protesters are angered not only by the thwarting of their desire to become closer to the West, but by police violence against the demonstrators.

Ostap Semerak, a member of the Fatherland Parry, said troops broke into the party's offices earlier tonight, some climbing in through its windows.

"They are storming us. The images are insane," he said by telephone.

The troops left after confiscating computer equipment, he said.

The party is headed by imprisoned former prime Yulia Tymoshenko, a longstanding foe of President Viktor Yanukovych, and is the largest opposition grouping in the parliament. Critics say Tymoshenko's conviction on abuse of office charges was a case of political revenge.

In a surprise move, Yanukovych announced he would sit down with three former Ukrainian presidents tomorrow to discuss a way out of the crisis that has paralysed the country. The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was also heading to the Ukraine to help defuse the tensions.

Ukraine's political standoff has been aggravated by its rapidly deteriorating finances. The economy has been in recession for more than a year, and the government is in desperate need of foreign funding to avoid a default. As talks stalled with the International Monetary Fund, Yanukovych has sought a bailout loan from Russia.

This former Soviet republic of 46 million people is sharply divided over the prospects of drawing closer to its powerful neighbour, Russia. Yanukovych's stronghold, is dominated by Russian speakers who want closer ties to Russia, in contrast to Kiev's students and residents in the west who see better EU ties as the way forward.

Opinion polls, however, show that the EU is more popular among Ukrainians than Russia.

Earlier Ukrainian police surrounded three tent encampments outside the government and presidential offices in central Kiev. Riot police also began removing barricades on the approach to the government building.

World boxing champion and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko warned the authorities against any further escalation in tensions.

"We are calling upon law enforcement to restrain from using force against peaceful demonstrators," he said as he tried to stop police from removing the tents.

A large protest test camp remained in place on Independence Square, the plaza that is the epicentre of the protests.

The square is a few hundred metres from the protester-occupied city administration building, which a court ordered demonstrators to leave by today. The appearance of riot police nearby raised anxieties inside, and some of the hundreds of people inside left.

Yesterday hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for Yanukovych's removal poured into Kiev, toppling a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and blockading government buildings.

Today they vandalised another Lenin statue in the southern town of Kotovsk.

"Only the legs are left standing," said town spokeswoman Yelena Khaustova.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager (Junior)

Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Lead IOs Andriod Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Applic...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried