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Ukraine clashes resume, fires light up night sky

January 25, 2014
By MARIA DANILOVA , THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KIEV, Ukraine - As riots spread from Ukraine's embattled capital to nearly half of the country, President Viktor Yanukovych promised Friday to reshuffle his government and make other concessions - but a top opposition leader said nothing short of his resignation would do.

Hours after the president's comments, huge fireballs lit up the night sky in central Kiev and plumes of thick black smoke rose from burning tires at giant barricades erected by protesters.

Clashes resumed at the barricades, which are just yards from lines of riot police and also made up of bags of ice and scraps of furniture.

Article Photos

AP PHOTO
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Friday. As riots spread from Ukraine's embattled capital to nearly half of the country, President Viktor Yanukovych promised Friday to reshuffle his government and make other concessions - but a top opposition leader said nothing short of his resignation would do.

Angry demonstrators hurled firebombs, rocks and fireworks at officers. Riot police responded with tear gas and several dozen protesters were rushed to a makeshift medical triage area to be treated.

"We will force the authorities to respect us," 27-year-old protester Artur Kapelan said. "Not they, but we will dictate the conditions of a truce."

The fighting had stopped earlier this week as opposition leaders entered into face-to-face talks with Yanukovych.

But hundreds of demonstrators in ski masks and helmets were still armed with sticks, stones and firebombs at the Kiev barricades.

After nearly two months of ignoring mass demonstrations calling for his ouster, Yanukovych offered to meet some of their demands, after crowds angered by the deaths of at least two protesters and allegations of abuse by authorities besieged government buildings in scores of cities in western Ukraine.

At a meeting with religious leaders, Yanukovych vowed that, at a special parliament meeting on Tuesday, he would push through changes to his Cabinet, grant amnesty to dozens of jailed activists and amend harsh anti-protest legislation.

But Vitali Klitschko, an opposition leader who is a former world heavyweight boxing champion, declared the only way to end the street protests - known as the Maidan after the central Kiev square occupied by demonstrators - is for Yanukovych to resign.

"Just a month ago, the Maidan would have gone home," Klitschko told reporters Friday night, according to the Interfax news agency. "Today, people are demanding the president's resignation."

 
 

 

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