UK & World News

  • 11 December 2013, 21:32

Ukraine President Calls Talks To End Protests

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said he has invited all parties including the opposition for talks to find a political compromise to a growing crisis in the country.

In a statement on his website, Mr Yanukovich vowed not to use force against peaceful protesters and urged the opposition to avoid confrontation after several dozen were injured in fresh clashes with riot police.

He said: "For the sake of achieving compromise I am calling on the opposition not to reject (talks), not to follow the path of confrontation and ultimatums.

"I invite representatives of all political parties, priests, representatives of civil society to national talks."

He added that authorities would "never use force against peaceful protests".

It comes after Ukrainian police withdrew from a protest camp after an overnight confrontation following weeks of protests against Mr Yanukovich.

Officers had cleared streets near the camp in Maidan Square, bulldozed tents and were involved in skirmishes with protesters.

Demonstrators also set up a makeshift hospital in the Kiev city hall building, and sprayed officers with water hoses to prevent them storming it.

The unrest erupted after Mr Yanukovich's decision to spurn an EU trade deal and strengthen Ukraine's economic ties with Russia.

Secretary of State John Kerry voiced US "disgust" at the riot police action.

He said: "(Washington) expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kiev's Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity."

Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, who is a reigning world heavyweight boxing champion, had urged Ukrainians to rush the centre of the capital to defend democracy.

He said: "We will say no to a police state, no to a dictatorship."

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