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Nation/World

January 24, 2014

Opposition optimistic after meeting Yanukovych

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The chances of ending the violence that has convulsed the Ukrainian capital are high, a spokeswoman for a top opposition leader said late yesterday after a meeting with the president.

Olha Lappo, a spokeswoman for Arseniy Yatsenyuk, made the statement on his Facebook page yesterday after an hours-long meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych. That came after opposition leaders gave a Thursday evening deadline to make concessions or face renewed clashes.

She did not provide details, but the assessment appeared to be the first sign of progress in resolving the two-month crisis that is threatening to spread well beyond Kiev.

However, some protesters were resistant last night. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, one of those who met with Yanukovych, went to the site of clashes to try to persuade demonstrators to hold to an uneasy truce, but was booed and some cried “Shame!”

The demonstrators again set aflame barricades of tires that had been quenched when opposition leaders offered the deadline.

The clash site is a few hundred yards away from the protester tent camp on Independence Square, where around-the-clock demonstrations have been held since early December.

At least two people were killed by gunfire at the clash site on Wednesday. Demonstrators had pelted riot police with barrages of stones and set police buses on fire, while the officers responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.

Enraged protesters stormed government offices in three western Ukraine cities Thursday, forcing one governor to write a letter of resignation, as demonstrations intensified outside Kiev.

The president called a special session of parliament next week to discuss the tensions, telling the parliament speaker: “The situation demands an urgent settlement.” But there was no indication that the move represented a compromise, since the president’s backers hold a majority of seats.

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