Ukraine protesters reject government offer of talks

Demonstrators see police stand-down as major victory

12/11/2013
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Pro-European Union activists guard the barricade during clashes with riot police in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, today.
Pro-European Union activists guard the barricade during clashes with riot police in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, today.

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.