Ukraine stand-off intensifies as crisis talks fail

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Anti-government protesters have erected more barricades in Ukraine’s capital Kiev after talks with the president failed to deliver a breakthrough.

As the stand-off continues around Independence Square, demonstrators said they had now seized control of the Agriculture Ministry.

Reporting back on the meeting he and other opposition leaders had with the president, boxing champion turned politician Vitaly Klitschko was blunt.

“The only thing we managed to arrange is not much,” he declared, saying that the authorities’ sole concession was an offer to release detained demonstrators in exchange for a return to calm.

The crowd, which wants President Viktor Yanukovych to resign and sweeping anti-protest laws to be repealed, gave their answer to the offer by booing and whistling.

“Yes, I had the same reaction,” Klitschko told them.

As witnesses reported new barricades being built closer to the presidential headquarters, he said he feared further bloodshed.

Many seem to think the time for talking is over.

“Making peace with them is like telling a dog that bites off your hand, don’t bite. They are just playing for time,” said one demonstrator.

“I can tell that it is impossible to wait for any concessions or appeasement,” another added. “Negotiations are just something to take time.”

The protests began in November when President Yanukovych pulled out of signing a free trade deal with 
the EU in favor of closer economic ties with Russia.

Unrest has escalated sharply in recent days.

At least five protesters have been killed according to the opposition. Scores of others, on both sides, have been injured.

Angelina Kariakina, our correspondent in Kyiv, said: “A temporary peace in exchange for an end to arrests and repression…that is the offer that opposition leaders brought back after talks with the president.

“There is doubt at the barricades, as no one believes in promises anymore. But protesters are not taking any radical action, deciding, for now, to adopt a wait and see approach.”

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