With no end in sight to the standoff in Ukraine, protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square spent Friday digging in and preparing for battle.
All morning groups of people shovelled snow into bags which were used to reinforce rows of barricades that are blocking off several streets. New barricades went up Thursday night despite pleas from the leaders of the main opposition parties to take down some barriers. Throughout the day protesters burned tires, placed makeshift catapults within striking of police and even practised marching in formation with shields taken from fallen riot police.
They also took control of another government building in the area, bringing to four the total now under their control.
The demonstrations also spread further across the country with people storming government offices in Lutsky in the northwest, and Sumy in the East. On Thursday activists took control of governors’ offices in three other cities.
On Friday, there were calls from some government supporters for President Viktor Yanukovych to declare a state of emergency. So far the president has said he would recall parliament next week to consider opposition demands which include snap elections and a repeal of recently enacted laws against demonstrations.
On Thursday, Vitali Klitschko, who leads one opposition party, called on protesters to pull down some barricades and hold peaceful protests in the square. He said the government in return would release protesters who had been arrested and leave the peaceful protest alone. His call was flatly rejected. The government has said it is open to further talks but so far the protesters seem uninterested.
“People are so frustrated that even though there is a need for compromise they are rejecting the option of compromise,” Alexander Sych , a Member of Parliament for another opposition party called Svoboda, told a few hundred protesters near Independence Square Friday. “It’s not because people want a war. It’s not because people want to die or want further deaths. People have absolutely no trust, no belief in the government or the president.”
Mr. Sych told the group that the protesters had to be organized and disciplined. After he spoke the crowd chanted “Glory to Ukraine. To the heroes, glory.”
As many as five protesters are believed dead and more than 70 arrested.
Also on Friday, Germany and France called in Ukrainian ambassadors to express concern about the clashes between protesters and police.
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