Kiev Police Give Protesters 5 Days to Leave State Buildings
Published: December 6, 2013 (Issue # 1789)
Police issued an ultimatum to more than a thousand protesters surrounding Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers building in central Kiev on Thursday, saying they must leave the area within five days or officers will take action.
Opposition leaders vowed earlier this week to continue with rallies in which thousands of people have taken to the streets of Kiev and other Ukrainian cities in anti-government protests that began last month when the government announced it was postponing the signing of political and free-trade agreements with the European Union.
Currently, more than 12,000 protesters are rallying across the Ukrainian capital. Two groups entered and occupied the city administration building and the Trade Union headquarters Sunday, and crowds have also gathered outside other key official buildings: the Cabinet of Ministers, the presidential administration and the parliament.
About 10,000 protesters – the biggest crowd in Kiev at the moment – are rallying outside the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. Legislative work has been suspended since Wednesday morning, when opposition lawmakers blocked the legislature’s rostrum and presidium.
Small groups of protesters moved on Wednesday evening to the headquarters of the country’s National Security Council, the Interior Ministry and the Shevchenko District Court, where cases of detained activists are currently being heard.
The capital’s newly appointed acting police chief Valery Mazan said law enforcement officers would “take measures to unblock the Ukrainian government building [Cabinet of Ministers]” if the demand is not met by the deadline. He did not elaborate on what type of action would be taken.
“Police are taking all possible measures to keep the rallies peaceful. We are doing our best to avoid the use of force. But we will act in a firm and determined way if the law is violated,” Mazan was quoted as saying by Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency. “We are not going to negotiate with criminals; we have other legal means and possibilities of dealing with them.”
Mazan was apparently referring to a court ruling issued earlier this week that ordered protesters to immediately leave all official buildings currently under siege. The ruling was read out to a crowd of several thousand rallying outside the Cabinet of Ministers on Thursday.
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