Ukraine protesters expand camp

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KIEV: Ukrainian protesters on Friday expanded their protest camp and barricades in Kiev after crunch talks between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych failed to end the country’s deepening crisis.

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After the latest round of talks, protesters began enlarging their protest camp on the capital’s Independence Square, as an uneasy truce held after five days of deadly clashes with security forces.

Opposition supporters advanced barricades up a street, ever closer to the presidential administration.

Activists also occupied the agriculture ministry in the city center, the coordinator of activist group Common Cause, Oleksandr Danylyuk, said on Facebook, adding the group was seeking to replace the minister.

“The Maidan [Independence Square] is an island of freedom,” opposition leader and former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko told the crowds after talks Thursday with the president.

“And we will be expanding the territory of the Maidan until we are heard.”

Klitschko and two other main opposition leaders held four hours of talks with Yanukovych, but the relatively minor concessions offered by the president were greeted with derision by tens of thousands of protesters.

In a development likely to severely alarm the embattled Yanukovych, angry protesters in half a dozen regions in the nationalist west of Ukraine seized control of regional administration buildings.

“Several cities rebelled today,” Klitschko said in a late-night speech. “Tomorrow there will be more of them.”

This week’s clashes, which came after two months of protests over Yanukovych’s failure to sign an integration deal with the European Union under Russian pressure, have turned parts of Kiev into a battle zone and left five activists dead.

Meanwhile, police have confirmed that two young men who died in the latest clashes with security forces were killed by gunshot wounds but denied responsibility for their deaths.

“The cause of death of both men was gunshot wounds,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

Police identified the victims as Sergei Nigoyan, a 20-year-old from the industrial region of Dnipropetrovsk, and Mikhail Zhiznevsky, a 25-year-old national of Belarus.

A police statement released Thursday said Nigoyan was killed with buckshot, while Zhiznevsky died from a hunting bullet.

AFP

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