January 25

Ukraine protesters expand control

Despite some conciliatory moves by the president, they take over more areas in Kiev and elsewhere.

By Will Englund
The Washington Post

KIEV, Ukraine — Opposition protesters unhappy about the outcome of negotiations with Ukraine’s government cranked up the pressure Friday, moving on several fronts to expand the areas they control, both in the capital and in other cities.

click image to enlarge

Protesters guard the barricades around seized government headquarters in Lviv, western Ukraine, Friday, in one of several actions that crank up pressure on the government.

The Associated Press

President Viktor Yanukovych, meanwhile, in a meeting with religious leaders, promised to shake up the cabinet next week, when parliament is called back into session – although the opposition has demanded its dismissal.

In a show of conciliation, the president also said he would fire all officials involved in a violent police raid on the opposition encampment on Nov. 30.

Despite those efforts to project a stance of reasonable compromise, however, the opposition doesn’t trust him, and the radicals within the opposition are no longer under the control of the mainstream politicians who have been leading the movement.

In Kiev, protesters built new barricades and pushed out farther along side streets feeding the Maidan, or Independence Square. One group seized the Agrarian Policy Ministry building, on Khreshchatyk Street.

Elsewhere in the country, demonstrators seized administrative buildings in Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Khmelnitsky, Chernovtsy and Rivne and attempted to take over the local government buildings in Zhytomyr, Poltava and Cherkasy.

Protest rallies were held in Vinnytsia, Sumy, Uzhhorod and even Donetsk, Yanukovych’s home base.

The simultaneous eruptions in provincial cities appeared to be coordinated. And they came even as Yanukovych’s government reiterated at the bargaining table that one of its chief demands is for protesters to leave the buildings they began occupying in November.

But after Thursday’s late-night negotiations between Yanukovych and his adversaries, Justice Minister Olena Lukash said opposition leaders had refused to condemn the seizure of administrative buildings. Instead, after leaving the talks, they called on the crowds of protesters to expand the occupied territory, although they said it must be by peaceful means.

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