Protests Intensify Over Ukraine’s Rejection Of EU Pact

Massive protests in Ukraine continued Wednesday, as demonstrators besieged key government buildings in the capital, Kiev, amid a crisis over President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of closer ties with the European Union.

The government rejected a landmark EU trade pact last month, sparking angry demonstrations that have brought as many as 300,000 people onto the streets.

On Tuesday, the opposition lost a bid to unseat the government when a vote of no-confidence failed to win approval in the country’s parliament.

The Associated Press writes:

“The opposition called for the parliamentary vote over Yanukovych’s shelving of a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and the violent tactics used by police to disperse demonstrators protesting the decision.”

“Yanukovych has sought to quell public anger by moving to renew [EU trade] talks with Brussels. The government appears to recognize that the police violence may have galvanized long-brewing frustrations rather than stifle protests.”

“But while Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, attending the parliamentary session with his Cabinet, apologized for the violence, he also made a tough vow.”

“‘We have extended our hand to you, but if we encounter a fist, I will be frank, we have enough force,’ he said.”

On Wednesday, protestors threatened to extend their blockade to the president’s office, Reuters says.

Yanukovych flew to China on Tuesday, where he hoped to sign bilateral trade deals.

Reuters writes that Yanukovych’s departure “was a gesture of confidence that order could be maintained at home. ”

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