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Ukraine protesters reject government offer of talks

Demonstrators see police stand-down as major victory

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    Riot police push away pro-European Union activists from their barricades at the Ukrainian presidential administration building in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Heavily armed riot troops broke into the offices of a top Ukrainian opposition party in Kiev and seized its servers Monday, the party said, as anti-government protests crippled the capital for yet another day. Elsewhere police dismantled or blocked off several small protest tent camps set up near key national government buildings in the city. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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    Riot police block an opposition tent camp while displacing pro-European Union activists from their barricades at the Ukrainian presidential administration building in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Heavily armed riot troops broke into the offices of a top Ukrainian opposition party in Kiev and seized its servers Monday, the party said, as anti-government protests crippled the capital for yet another day. Elsewhere police dismantled or blocked off several small protest tent camps set up near key national government buildings in the city. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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    An Ukrainian priest speaks to Riot police as they block Pro-European Union activists camping out in their tents on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Hundreds of police have moved on a large protest camp in the center of Kiev. Protesters are shouting "Shame!" "We will stand!" and singing the Ukrainian national anthem.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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    Pro-European Union activists guard the barricade during clashes with riot police in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, today.

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    U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, center, gestures as she and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, right, walk through the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Top Western diplomats headed to Kiev Tuesday to try to defuse a standoff between President Viktor Yanukovych's government and thousands of demonstrators, following a night in which police in riot gear dismantled protesters' encampments outside government buildings. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

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    Riot policemen block Pro-European Union activists camping out in their tents on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, today.

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    Pro-European Union activists wave flags as riot police pull back from Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Security forces clashed with protesters as they began tearing down opposition barricades and tents set up in the center of the Ukrainian capital early Wednesday, in an escalation of the weeks-long standoff threatening the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovych. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

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    Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, center, arrive to meet Pro-European Union activists gathered on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Some demonstrators arrested in the massive protests sweeping Ukraine's capital will be released, embattled President Viktor Yanukovych promised Tuesday, trying to defuse a political standoff that is threatening his leadership. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

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    Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, center, and former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vladimir Ogryzko, right, arrive to meet Pro-European Union activists gathered on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Some demonstrators arrested in the massive protests sweeping Ukraine's capital will be released, embattled President Viktor Yanukovych promised Tuesday, trying to defuse a political standoff that is threatening his leadership. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)

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    Riot policemen block Pro-European Union activists camping out in their tents on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Hundreds of police have moved on a large protest camp in the center of Kiev. Protesters are shouting "Shame!" "We will stand!" and singing the Ukrainian national anthem. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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    Pro-European Union activists warm themselves around a bonfire as they gather in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Top Western diplomats headed to Kiev Tuesday to try to defuse a standoff between President Viktor Yanukovych's government and thousands of demonstrators, following a night in which police in riot gear dismantled protesters' encampments outside government buildings. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Ukraine-Protest-44

    Riot police block Pro-European Union activists camping out in their tents on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Hundreds of police have moved on a large protest camp in the center of Kiev. Protesters are shouting "Shame!" "We will stand!" and singing the Ukrainian national anthem. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Ukraine-Protest-45

    Riot police try to displace pro-European Union activists from their barricades at the Ukrainian presidential administration building in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Heavily armed riot troops broke into the offices of a top Ukrainian opposition party in Kiev and seized its servers Monday, the party said, as anti-government protests crippled the capital for yet another day. Elsewhere police dismantled or blocked off several small protest tent camps set up near key national government buildings in the city. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Ukraine-Protest-46

    Ukrainian riot police storm Pro-European Union activists gathered in their tent camps on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. Security forces clashed with protesters as they began tearing down opposition barricades and tents set up in the center of the Ukrainian capital early Wednesday, in an escalation of the weeks-long standoff threatening the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovych. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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Pro-European Union activists guard the barricade during clashes with riot police in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, today.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

KIEV, Ukraine — Opposition protesters in Ukraine have rejected President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer of talks, saying they will not sit down with him until he fires his government and releases all arrested demonstrators.

The opposition appeared to be in a stronger position after the abrupt withdrawal of riot police early today from parts of Ukraine’s capital. This has raised hopes that weeks of demonstrations have eroded police support for Yanukovych and his government.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of the largest opposition party in parliament, calls the police withdrawal “a great victory.”

Yanukovych issued an invitation late today to political, religious and civil figures to join a national dialogue. But it was unclear if the move was merely an attempt to buy time and mollify Western officials who are pressuring him to reduce tensions.

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