Ukraine police disperse pro-EU protesters

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Ukraine police disperse pro-EU protesters

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Ukrainian riot police have used batons and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of pro-Europe protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square.

Some were chased into side-streets. More than 30 arrests were made.

There were no hard figures on injuries. The opposition claims up to 100 people were hurt. It says police stormed into the protest encampment without warning.

“It was absolute savagery. By my count, we are talking of tens of cruelly beaten people, perhaps hundreds,” an opposition deputy, Andriy Shevchenko, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

The tough police tactics raise fears of confrontation on Sunday when a pro-Europe rally has been called. Some 100,000 people flooded the city centre last Sunday.

Protesters are angry at President Viktor Yanukovich’s failure to sign a landmark trade pact with Europe at the EU summit in Vilnius.

He has criticised the EU’s proposed aid package for Ukraine and, under pressure from Moscow, he is reviving trade talks with Russia.

“If Mr Yanukovich thinks that the European Union should give him money, he should become very concrete and ask how much and in which way and under what circumstances,” said European Parliament President Martin Schulz. “Obviously, he made a deal with the Russian Federation to get money because he needs money and to get cheap gas, because he needs cheap gas.”

Despite deciding not to move closer to the EU for now, Yanukovich says Ukraine still intends to sign the association deal in the future.