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Ukrainian protestors occupy government buildings



KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Protesters on Friday seized a government building in the Ukrainian capital while also maintaining their siege of several governors' offices in the country's west, raising the pressure on the government.

After meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych for several hours late Thursday, opposition leaders told the crowds that he had promised to ensure the release of dozens of protesters detained after clashes with police, and stop further detentions. They urged the protesters to maintain a shaky truce following violent street battles in the capital, but were booed by demonstrators eager to resume clashes with police.

The truce has held, but early Friday protesters broke into the downtown building of the Ministry of Agricultural Policy, meeting no resistance. "We need to keep people warm in the frost," said one of the protesters, Andriy Moiseenko. "We cannot have people sleeping in tents all the time."

The demonstrators allowed ministry workers to take their possessions, but wouldn't allow them to go to work.

The move followed the seizure of local governors' offices in several western regions on Thursday.

Ukraine Violence Rises As Ultimatum Nears End

In Lviv, near the Polish border, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) west of Kiev, hundreds of activists burst into the office of the regional governor, Oleh Salo, a Yanukovych appointee, shouting "Revolution!" They forced a local governor to sign a resignation letter and remained in the building, refusing to let the workers in.

Protesters also have retained control of offices in four other western cities seized Thursday, though they suffered a setback in Cherkasy, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Kiev, where police barricaded the governor's building from inside and prevented them from taking control. Police reinforcements arrived later, dispersing the protesters and arresting several dozen of them.

Yanukovych, meanwhile, called an emergency session of parliament - which is controlled by his loyalists - next week to discuss the tensions. It wasn't clear if Yanukovych's move Thursday reflected his intention to bow to some of the protesters' demands, or was just an attempt to buy some time and try to ease tensions.

His Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko issued a statement late Thursday guaranteeing that police would not take action against the large protest camp on Independence Square, known as the Maidan. He also urged police not to react to provocations.

The demonstrations began two months ago after Yanukovych abruptly ditched an association agreement with the European Union in favor of a bailout loan from Russia. The protests have been largely peaceful, but they turned violent Sunday after Yanukovych pushed through harsh anti-protest laws and stonewalled protesters' demands that he call new elections.

Two people were fatally shot in the clashes Wednesday, the first deaths since the protest began, fueling fears of further escalation. The opposition has blamed the deaths on authorities, but Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Thursday that the two men's wounds were caused by hunting rifles, which the police do not possess.

The opposition claimed that as many as five protesters were killed in Wednesday's clashes, though they said they have no evidence because the bodies were removed by authorities.

Opposition leaders had earlier set a Thursday evening deadline for the government to make concessions or face renewed clashes, but then pleaded with the crowds to extend the truce, even though the talks with Yanukovych brought little visible progress and there was no word about meeting the main protesters' demand for early elections.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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amavrck January 25 2014 at 1:56 AM

technology has seemingly progressed exponentially through the years..sadly..the human heart has not..

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Paul B. Kravitz January 24 2014 at 12:06 PM

Sooner or later
, all the people around the world will gain their freedom. The problem is, once gained how will they learn to govern themselves. Just look at Washinton now... is this freedom? What has happened to the rule of law? We are in real trouble if we don't see what is happening in our own back yard.

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4 replies
GgMywb January 24 2014 at 12:10 PM

Are the protesters not being just a little naive here..? Hopefully next week he (Yanukovych) wont crack down on them.. as they did in China at Ti-en a min square..'

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arcpac January 24 2014 at 3:01 PM

Jeeez people...the preists were just doing what preists do...the Pope frequently opposes anybody resorting to violence, I have never heard Billy Graham advocate nuking anybody and I would be utterly unsurprised to see Catholic preists, Baptist ministers or Evangelical preachers doing the same thing in similar circumstances here in the US.

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jmoore127 January 24 2014 at 1:16 PM

Let's hear more about the role that the Orthodox priests are playing.

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calderasf January 24 2014 at 1:20 PM

The people do NOT want to side with the dictator Putin resign and get out of the way for freedom.
GO Ukraine!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
SPQR January 24 2014 at 1:20 PM

Bill Gatessaid the other day that all was well and nobody would be poor anymore by 2035. Things were never better. Hmmm hard to believe from this article and that is nothing compared to what is going on in Syria and the rest of the world

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
MIKEY'S SCREEN SPQR January 24 2014 at 1:41 PM

That would be like me back in 1990 when I retired from active military that, within 22 years, I would be financially solvent and not have to worry about the economy at all, right?

YO!

I got a bridge in Arizona that I would like to sell. Any takers?

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
hellyon3too MIKEY'S SCREEN January 24 2014 at 3:04 PM

Not fair! I have a bridge in Michigan I've been trying to sell for years. I'll even deliver it, no additional charge. Maybe we could make them a set, then we'll both be financially solvent, at least until the cost of living goes up again.

Thank you for your service, Marine. We owe you a debt of gratitude that is seldom paid.

Flag +1 rate up
rawhite77 January 24 2014 at 1:41 PM

THATS ONE WAY TO GET RID OF JUNK TIRES......

Flag Reply +3 rate up
arcpac January 24 2014 at 2:50 PM

Well Matthew they want to be part of the EU because they know very well what lies in store for them in the tender arms of Putin and his retro communist thugs, Ireland, Italy, France, greece and Portugal look like a Club Med resort compared to the Ukraine and Russie (or is it the USSR?)

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2 replies
plansmaker arcpac January 24 2014 at 3:00 PM

They wanted no part in Mother Russia...In short, anything is better than Russia domination.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
Kim arcpac January 24 2014 at 4:16 PM

Absolutely they know the time is now or never

Flag Reply +4 rate up
walt.hafer January 25 2014 at 5:18 AM

How soon before we rise up?

Gather friends and family this November and VOTE.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
aol~~ 1209600

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