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As anti-government voices grow in Kiev, police begin cracking down on protests

December 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
ukraine
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GWEN IFILL: The president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, is backing a call for talks with the country’s opposition, in an attempt to quell weeks of protests. Tensions are running high in Kiev tonight, however, as pro-Europe demonstrators are barricading protest camps which police have threatened to disperse.

On Sunday, a party-like atmosphere prevailed in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Several hundred thousand people angry over what they see as the government’s tilt toward Russia and away from Europe demanded the government’s resignation. It was the largest crowd yet. The night ended with protesters pulling down a statue of Vladimir Lenin.

Today, signs of a new crackdown appeared. Riot troops encircled some camp sites, and eventually began dismantling protesters’ barricades. Opposition leaders warned their followers not to provoke the police.

ARSENIY YATSENYUK, United Opposition Leader (through interpreter): In any case, don’t touch the police. Don’t beat them. If they destroy our camps, we will go for new barricades and set them up tomorrow.

GWEN IFILL: Elsewhere, masked men armed with guns raided the party headquarters of a jailed opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko. and a state prosecutor warned protest leaders they face arrest.

VIKTOR PSHONKA, General Prosecutor,Ukraine (through interpreter): The calls to rally organizers show total disrespect to law and a desire to satisfy their political ambitions for any price.

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But it won’t work. If they ignore the enforcement of judges’ verdicts, disrespect the law and the constitution of Ukraine, they will be held responsible.

GWEN IFILL: President Viktor Yanukovych announced he will meet with his predecessors tomorrow to discuss the crisis.