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Continued: Facing massive protests, Ukraine leader asks to resume talks with EU

  • Article by: MARIA DANILOVA , Associated Press
  • Last update: December 2, 2013 - 3:25 PM

The opposition also was getting support from Ukraine's main television channels, which are owned by the country's wealthiest businessmen. Instead of largely toeing the government line, the channels have begun to give a greater platform to the protesters.

In Kiev, thousands continued rallying on Independence Square, which was turned into a giant tent camp cordoned off by barricades made of metal bars and wooden planks. Hundreds of others held ground inside Kiev city hall, where some protesters slept on the floor, while others lined up to receive hot tea, sandwiches and other food brought in by Kiev residents. Other volunteers sorted through piles of donated warm clothes and medicines.

"You can also fight for freedom and independence by giving out sandwiches," said Yulia Zhiber, a 21-year-old philology student from Kiev.

Protests have been held daily in Kiev since Yanukovych's Cabinet announced on Nov. 21 that it was ditching the EU agreement in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Yanukovych was also reluctant to liberate his top rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose imprisonment the EU called political revenge and whose freedom it set as a condition for signing the deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman reaffirmed the willingness of Berlin and Brussels to sign the association agreement, saying the protests clearly showed that Ukrainians want the EU deal.

"For the German government, these demonstrations send a very clear message," he said. "It has to be hoped that ... Yanukovych will hear this message."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at a conference in Lima, Peru, appealed "to all parties to act with restraint" and "avoid any further violence."

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also called for calm.

"We continue to stress there is no room for violence in a country that aspires to a democratic future," she said.

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