UK & World News

  • 20 January 2014, 22:49

Ukraine President Urges Calm Amid Violence

Violent clashes have erupted again on the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev despite calls by the country's president for calm.

Protesters threw Molotov cocktails while riot police have responded with rubber bullets on a second night of street battles.

President Viktor Yanukovich has condemned those behind the violence, accusing them of wanting to draw the Ukraine "into the fire of mass unrest".

He is urging compromise and opposition talks after scores were injured in clashes on Sunday - the worst in two months of protests following his U-turn over forging closer ties with the European Union in favour of Russia.

Mr Yanukovich had stoked anger further with the introduction of sweeping new laws which critics argue would lead to a police state.

Sunday's unrest left more than 60 police injured, with 40 being taken to hospital, according to the authorities.

About 100 civilians were also hurt.

And the violence continued on Monday with demonstrators building a catapult to fire missiles at police.

One protester Serhiy Boyko said: "They are afraid - they will be hiding underneath their shields, until then they are afraid, because they are simply scared.

"This catapult scares them, they are trying to scare us with stun grenades and we will scare them in this way, because we do not have any other options."

In his a televised address, Mr Yanukovich said: "I'm addressing residents of the city of Kiev, as well as other participants of mass rallies.

"I'm asking you not to follow those who are calling for violence, who wants to provoke a rift between the state and the society and wants to throw the Ukrainian people into the fire of mass unrest.

"I'm convinced that you will hear me and will support me in my attempts to stop confrontation that was provoked by those who want to fight for power using human blood."

Earlier on Monday, he named a top aide to organise peace talks with the opposition.

"I'm calling for a dialogue, for a compromise, for calm in our beloved country," he said.

Opposition leader and former boxer Vitaly Klitschko has insisted he wants Mr Yanukovich to take part personally in the talks.

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