Ukraine protesters to police: 'Make tea, not war'

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Ukraine protesters to police: 'Make tea, not war'

Ukraine protesters to police: 'Make tea, not war'
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In terms of public relations, the images could not contrast more sharply with scenes of violence that took place on the exact same spot last weekend.

A row of women emerged from among the Ukrainian anti-government protesters near presidential administration buildings in Kyiv, to bring hot drinks and snacks as a peace offering to the riot squad.

“We want you, the police, to understand that the people who are in the square… that we’re expressing non-violent resistance,” one of them announced via a loudspeaker, as the women faced lines of police officers.

“Please, accept some hot tea, biscuits, and sandwiches – all we can give you to make you feel better,” she added, as the embarrassed officers weighed up the unexpected gifts.

Riot police remained expressionless in place while plastic cups filled with drinks sat on the ground in front of them.

The police violence early on Saturday and again on Sunday night, which saw demonstrators and journalists assaulted, caused international outrage.

It was condemned even by several of Ukraine’s own diplomats abroad. At least one has been summoned home.

A few hours earlier, euronews correspondent in Kyiv Sergio Cantone tackled the number two figure in the Ukrainian government on what lay behind the crackdown.

Sergio Cantone, euronews: “There was a deliberate intention by the riot police, the Berkut (the special police unit) to clear the square and they used the force to do that. So there was some order and we would like to know who gave that order.”

Serhiy Arbuzov, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister: “I doubt that there was a precise order to make the Berkut act. The situation was changing quickly so the decision was taken based on what was happening in the square. It is unlikely that at that moment, given the number of protesters there, someone wanted to act in a way that would lead to such problems. Of course, we don’t approve of this attitude, and today an investigation is underway. I have repeatedly stated in many interviews that we condemn what happened.”

Our correspondent then turned to Ukraine’s stated intention to seek an accord with the EU on more advantageous terms.

euronews: “May you give us please the amount of money that you are expecting Brussels to put on the table, to offer.”

Serhiy Arbuzov, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister: “So far, it is difficult to give a sum. But clearly, it is not the 600 million (euros) that we were discussing before. The situation has got worse. We have big changes in the markets for our goods, including our traditional partners. Our trade turnover with Russia has fallen by 25 percent.”

A Ukrainian delegation heads to Brussels on Wednesday, while a separate team of officials goes to Moscow.