KIEV: Pro-European Union (EU) demonstrators in Ukraine dug on Thursday as the United States (US) warned of possible sanctions over Kiev’s crackdown on opposition protests, urging authorities to show restraint.
The demonstrators—who have occupied the capital’s Independence Square in anger at the rejection of a landmark European Union pact—forced riot police to retreat following a pre-dawn raid Wednesday on their protest camp in a blow to the authority of President Viktor Yanukovych.
International pressure is mounting on the embattled leader, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meeting him twice in recent days and US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland telling the president the attempted police crackdown was “inadmissible.”
About 30 people were injured when riot police and interior ministry special forces moved against the demonstrators. But just hours later Yanukovych vowed authorities would never use force against peaceful protests and urged the opposition to sit down for talks.
“For the sake of achieving compromise I am calling on the opposition not to reject [talks], not to follow the path of confrontation and ultimatums,” Yanukovych said in a statement.