UKRAINE OPPOSITION SNUBS TALKS – PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH MUST TAKE PART

Wall Street Journal on January 20, 2014, reported that efforts to solve the political crisis in Ukraine foundered as opposition leaders refused to take part in talks with the government unless President Viktor Yanukovych joined the discussions. Excerpts below:

Hundreds of protesters, mostly masked and wearing helmets, lined up opposite riot police for a second day, throwing Molotov cocktails and cobblestones, and banging on makeshift drums. Police tossed stones back at protesters, fired rubber bullets and sprayed water on the ground in front of their lines that turned to ice in freezing temperatures.

Both sides said dozens had been injured since the clashes.

The escalation came amid frustration among younger and more radical protesters with the week long occupation of Independence Square in central Kiev, which has yielded few concessions.

Thousands of demonstrators have stood on the square since November to demand the government resign after it walked away from a trade and political deal with the EU and accepted a Russian bailout instead.


Opposition leaders have criticized the violence but said it was a result of Mr. Yanukovych ignoring their demands, including for snap presidential elections.

“I call on all citizens and patriots to defend their country and their future,” opposition leader and former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko said. “Get in cars, minibuses, buses. You’re needed here so that Ukraine wins and not Yanukovych.”

After talks with Mr. Klitschko, Mr. Yanukovych ordered his national security adviser to arrange talks between the government and the opposition.

Mr. Klitschko said the opposition wouldn’t take part unless Mr. Yanukovych did. Opposition leaders sent their deputies to talks with Mr. Yanukovych’s representatives with a list of demands including repealing the new laws.

Some in the opposition say they are concerned that the offer of talks, announced late Sunday night, was a ruse to calm tensions and buy time before launching a crackdown.

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