2014-02-02 19:12:45

EU 's Ashton urges Ukraine dialogue amid new protests

(Vatican Radio )-- The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has urged the government and opposition to continue negotiations amid concerns the country is moving towards civil war after recent deadly clashes between the opposition and security forces. The appeal came as mass anti government rallies continued on Sunday in the capital Kyiv.

Listen to the report by regional correspondent Stefan Bos... RealAudioMP3

Kyiv's independence square was once again the scene of protests, despite president VIktor Yanukovich decision to sign a controversial amnesty law. Under the legislation detained activists will be released if protesters leave occupied government buildings.

But Demonstrators say they first want president Yanukovich to step down.
They have linked him to clashes between anti-government protesters and police in which as many as 7 people died. Protesters also demand early elections and closer ties with the European Union.
Amid the controversy, there has been a war of words between the opposition and government at an international security conference in Munich, Germany. Ukraine's Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhare challenged boxing champion turned-opposition leader Vitally Klitschko asking him whether he had been with extremist groups.


Klitschko did not reply, but he later appeared in front of a group of supporters whose banners included a warning to Russian president Vladimir Putin not to intervene in Ukraine.

President Yanukovich recently agreed with Putin on closer ties with Russia in exchange for a 15 billion dollar bailout from Moscow.

Ashton has urged both Ukraine's government and the opposition to continue a constructive dialogue about the future of this former Soviet nation.

In a sign of at least some compromise, Germany's foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said Ukraine has agreed to allow leading activist Dmytro Bulatov, who faces house arrest on charges of causing mass disorder, to go abroad for medical treatment.

The activist has claimed he survived tortured amid opposition allegations that the government uses death squads against dissent, charges authorities strongly deny.

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