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Ukraine Protests Spread, But 'Fragile Truce' Holds In Kiev

On Friday in Kiev, a woman knelt as she appealed to Ukranian police troops at the site of clashes with anti-government protesters.
Gleb Garanich
On Friday in Kiev, a woman knelt as she appealed to Ukranian police troops at the site of clashes with anti-government protesters.

"Violent protests in Ukraine have spread beyond the capital, Kiev," the BBC writes, as President Viktor Yanukovych and three key opposition leaders meet.

On Friday, according to the BBC, "protesters stormed the governor's offices in Lviv, and there were rallies in at least five more western cities."

While the BBC goes on to say that a "fragile truce" is holding in Kiev, despite earlier warnings from the protesters that there could be more violence in the capital, Reuters puts an ominous cast on its report about what may happen in coming days:

"Ukrainian protesters erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building on Friday after the failure of crisis talks with President Viktor Yanukovich, pointing to a further hot weekend of protest."

At least two protesters were killed in clashes with police earlier this week in Kiev. Demonstrators are calling for new elections. As NPR's Corey Flintoff has reported, "the opposition accuses Yanukovych of trying to seize autocratic power." There have been protests since last November, when Yanukovych decided Ukraine should pull out of a pending treaty with the European Union. Demonstrators want him to call for new eletions. Corey has also noted that:

"The deal that Yanukovych rejected would have opened up greater trade and investment from the EU, but it would have also required Yanukovych to fight corruption and make democratic reforms. Instead, he made a deal with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin that, as far as we know, at least, didn't require any reforms. Russia is lending Ukraine $15 billion. It's giving a big discount on the price of natural gas that the country relies on for most of its energy. And the opposition accuses Yanukovych of making the country so deeply indebted to Russia that it will never get out of Moscow's orbit."

The Associated Press reports that the brutal rape of a young woman, allegedly by two police officers, also galvanized the opposition.

There was some conflicting information Friday about what, if anything, was accomplished during talks between the government and the opposition. While most news reports were about the spreading of demonstrations, the AP was also reporting that "Ukrainian news agencies say the president has promised a government reshuffle, amnesty."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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