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Kiev protesters hold their ground in the face of new concessions by Yanukovych

January 24, 2014 at 1:37 PM EDT
In Ukraine, violent anti-government protests have spread from the capital Kiev to nearly half the nation. The protesters say they won't stop until President Viktor Yanukovych steps down from power, despite his new pledge to reshuffle the government. Matt Frei of Independent Television News reports on the unrest.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Now we look at another country divided. 

The political unrest in Ukraine continues, as riots spread from the capital to nearly half the nation. Despite President Viktor Yanukovych’s pledge to reshuffle his government today, the protesters declared they won’t stop until he is out of office. 

Matt Frei of Independent Television News has this report from Kiev. 

MATT FREI:  Most of the city is soldiering on with normality, but look closer and you notice the new normal concentrated in less than a square mile of trouble. 

Here, revolutionary fervor is measured in tires.  They can’t bring them fast enough to strengthen the barricades, just in case. (INAUDIBLE) street on the way to Parliament the scene of this week’s battle, and it doesn’t look like as if will have any traffic issues any time soon. 

There are now three rows of barricades here built through overnight and the place is abuzz with the industry of insurrection.

None of this was here yesterday. The real estate of the revolution seems to be becoming permanent, especially at this crucial barricade close to parliament.  It is impossible to imagine that these tires, these walls and these people will disappear without the government making significant concessions. 

News that the president wants to amend the hated anti-protest laws leave them unimpressed. They still want him and the rest of the government to go. 

If this street is the key to the revolution, then Independence Square around the corner is its heart. This is where it all started. This is now a heavily fortified state within a state, whose very existence is an affront to the authorities. 

The government claims it is a hotbed of extremists and radicals.  So where better to put this to the test than in the shopping mall that lurks right underneath? 

Do you feel safe down here?

WOMAN:  Yes, completely. 

MATT FREI:  Are you in favor of what is happening up there?  Are you in favor of the…


WOMAN:  Yes, I am in favor, and I am have just bought some medicines, food, and socks. 

MATT FREI:  All right, so you are bringing supplies?

WOMAN:  Yes, for sure. 

MATT FREI:  Kiev is a city disfigured by politics.  If there is to be a peaceful solution through negotiations, there needs to be trust. 

But, when even the priests are tooling up, trust is in short supply, and both sides remain poised just in case.