Ukrainian riot police withdrew from Maidan Square in Kyiv on Wednesday, following a failed overnight move to storm City Hall and remove protesters by force.
It was the authorities’ biggest attempt yet to dislodge the movement after weeks of protests. Anger has mounted against President Viktor Yanukovych over his decision to scrap an EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with Russia.
With EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland in Kyiv, there were signs that the authorities were reluctant to use excessive force.
One demonstrator told euronews: “It’s the politicians who must resolve it. We as the people are trying to do something, but the politicians are acting in a contradictory way. It’s simple – we just need to talk – like neighbours. If neighbours have a conflict they either call the police or find a common language, because they need to live together. And it’s the same situation in Ukraine – if we can’t resolve the problem ourselves, we need to ask someone to help us.”
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, those problems were evident as demonstrators once more clashed with police. As before, City Hall became the battleground. Opposition and protest speakers have called on the West to support them in a campaign to force Yanukovych’s resignation.
Euronews correspondent Maria Korenyuk reporting from outside Kyiv’s City Council said: “Although yesterday Ukrainian authorities declared their will to resolve the conflict peacefully, the events of recent days have demonstrated the opposite. The riot police removed almost all the barricades in the centre of Kiev and used force against protesters again.”