Conflict in ukraine: opposition clears city hall in kiev

Once again, tens of thousands protest on the Maidan in Kiev, demanding the resignation of Yanukovych. The opposition is expected to arrive in Berlin on Monday.

The protest is expected to continue in Kiev. Photo: dpa

Tens of thousands of opponents of the government gathered again on Independence Square (Maidan) in the Ukrainian capital Kiev at noon on Sunday. As they have been doing for weeks, the demonstrators demanded the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, an amendment to the constitution and new elections in the near future.

Already on Saturday, the last of the arrested protesters had been released from custody. In response, the Maidan Council had part of the occupied territory cleared. Now Grushevsky Street, where fighting had taken place before, is passable again. Also, the Kyiv City Hall, which was occupied on 1. December after security forces violently dispersed a demonstration, the protesters left. Protesters also withdrew from government buildings in other regions of Ukraine. The government then withdrew its special forces from downtown Kyiv. Yanukovych had set a deadline of this Monday for the protesters to vacate the public buildings. This is the condition for an amnesty decided two weeks ago to take effect for demonstrators arrested during the protests.

Nevertheless, some public buildings, such as that of the trade unions and the Ukrainian House, remain in the hands of the insurgents. These buildings are strategically located so that the protesters can reoccupy the cleared sites at any time if necessary.

The eviction of the occupied buildings by no means means means an end to the protest, said the leader of the Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, to the taz. For the protesters, he said, the release of the political prisoners was merely the first step toward fulfilling their demands. The cleared buildings would be reoccupied within half an hour if the government did not abide by the agreement, Jarosch said. In that case, he said, violent conflict could not be ruled out.

However, no one in Ukraine wants further bloodshed. There have already been enough victims on both sides, opposition leaders of the Maidan as well as the government told Ukrainian media.

Many Ukrainian political scientists believe that the rapprochement between the government and the protesters was preceded by long unofficial negotiations in which European and Russian politicians were also involved. On the day of the opening of the Olympic Games, President Viktor Yanukovych had traveled to Sochi for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting ended inconclusively, details were not disclosed. Russia refuses to disburse further tranches of the billions of euros in promised financial aid as long as Ukraine does not fulfill the conditions formulated by Moscow. These include, among others, the appointment of a new head of government.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, head of the Fatherland Party, announced at Sunday’s rally that the opposition would ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) for EU financial support at a meeting planned for Monday in Berlin. "We need help, not words but deeds," he said. In addition to Yatsenyuk, opposition figure Vitali Klitschko is also expected to attend the meeting with Merkel. Translated from Russian Lyuba Naminova