Continuing riots in the Ukraine have prompted police forces to deploy in Kiev, the nation’s capital. Ukrainian citizens have been protesting in the streets for more than three weeks. Many are upset with President Viktor Yanukovych and the government for dismissing a treaty with the European Union to instead develop Russian relations.
Demonstrations on Sunday numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The Ukraine riots have been spurred on by the nation’s worsening economic situation. A financial recession has been ongoing for more than a year in the Eastern European nation. Many see the only way to pull the country’s finances out of this current nose-dive is through foreign aid. President Yanukovych had been in talks with the International Monetary Fund but when those failed to move forward, he turned to Moscow for help.
During the riots a number of angry Ukrainians took to occupying Kiev’s city hall and Independence Square. On Monday police decked out in riot gear began assembling outside the building. A representative of one of the groups occupying the government building says no one will be allowed in the building. However, there is fear that if police do storm the entrenched rioters, there could be bloodshed. One of the leaders of the anti-government opposition, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has called for rioters to stay calm and to avoid police confrontation.
For now riot police have been ordered to not force their way into the occupied city hall. Instead, they have erected barricades to enclose the Ukrainian rioters, hoping that they will run out of food and amenities.
While the standoff continues at Independence Square, a pro-European Union group, the Fatherland Party, says armed riot police stormed their headquarters in downtown Kiev. They say police officers climbed in through windows and began pouring through the offices. There are also reports that several leaders of anti-government groups have been called in for questioning.
Despite an imminent police crackdown in Kiev, Ukrainian President Yanukovych has announced that he will meet with three former presidents to discuss the crisis on Tuesday. The European Union has also sent their foreign policy chief to ease tensions.
Geoffrey Payat, the US Ambassador to Ukraine, advised the government to resist using force against the demonstrators. He says that “dialogue and non-violence [are] key,” calling the situation an “opportunity.”
The Ukraine riots have grown as a huge number of citizens took to the streets in Kiev to demand President Yanukovych’s resignation. On Sunday rioters tore down a statue of Vladimir Lenin in a show of anti-Russian sentiment.
[Image via Twitter / Nastya Stanko]