Monday, January 26, 2015   

Cornered Yanukovych calls Kiev time out
(02-20 12:04)

Ukraine's embattled leader announced a “truce'' with the opposition as he prepared for a grilling by visiting EU diplomats today over clashes that killed 26 and left the government facing diplomatic isolation. (Pictured, a protester at the barricades)
US President Barack Obama cautiously welcomed the apparent effort to defuse the crisis as thousands of helmeted protesters steeled themselves for new clashes with riot police on Kiev's flame-engulfed main square, known as Maidan, or city square.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych proposed the start of direct talks with the opposition after meeting three top anti-government lawmakers less than a block from the site of the deadliest unrest.
“The sides announced a truce and the start of a negotiations process aimed at ending the bloodshed [and] stabilizing the situation in the country for the benefit of civil peace,'' Yanukovych said in a statement posted after talks that included protest leader Vitali Klitschko.
But the scenes playing out in the heart of Kiev suggested a war zone that was being reinforced from all sides before a new fight following a night of the bloodiest violence in Ukraine's post-Soviet history.
Smoke from burning tires blew over the capital's iconic Independence Square while bursts of gunfire and exploding stun grenades echoed across the city center as determined pro-Western protesters faced off against heavily-armed police over burning barricades.—AFP

   
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