Ukraine Opposition Calls For Early Elections, General Strike
A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL
Kyiv -- Ukraine's opposition has called for the government's resignation and early parliamentary and presidential elections after police used force to disperse demonstrators in Kyiv early on November 30.
The opposition says it will also call a general strike, though there were no details of when that might happen.
Dozens of people were reported injured when riot police used truncheons to clear Kyiv's Independence Square of several hundred protesters in the early hours of November 30.
Activists said several dozen demonstrators were injured. There has been no word from police on how many were hurt.
Following the police raid, up to 4,000 protesters gathered outside a nearby monastery.
News reports said the crackdown was unprecedented for the amount of violence that was used.
"There was no provocation on our behalf. The [police] came and they started attacking people, beating them," said Ivan, a student who was there during the police action. "One of [the police], probably the commander, was shouting to them 'what are you doing? Don't be so cruel.' But they were cruel, they were dragging women on the ground."
The U.S. Embassy, in a statement, said the United States urged the Ukrainian government "to respect the rights of civil society and the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, which are fundamental to the democratic values that are the bedrock of our strategic partnership."
Meantime, jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has called on her supporters to continue protesting until President Viktor Yanukovych steps down.
The call came in a message read out by Tymoshenko's daughter, Yevheniya, at an opposition briefing on November 30.
Tensions have been building in Ukraine after Yanukovych refused, under reported pressure from Russia, to sign a long-anticipated association agreement with the European Union.
The deal was supposed to have been signed at an EU summit in Vilnius that ended on November 29.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, Pravda.com.ua, and Interfax
Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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