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Talks founder amid clashes in Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine — Promised talks aimed at resolving two months of unrest failed to materialize Monday as antigovernment protesters clashed with riot police in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, for a second day, with more than 200 people reported injured.

The violence follows weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations against President Viktor Yanukovych's decision not to sign a free-trade and association deal with the European Union, choosing instead to pursue closer ties with Russia.

At least 61 police officers and 42 protesters have been hospitalized since Sunday, officials said. The injured also include at least 15 journalists, news reports said.

The clashes erupted Sunday as tens of thousands of opposition demonstrators took to the streets in response to new security measures aimed at curbing protests.

Ahead of negotiations promised by Yanukovych for Monday, the opposition leadership issued several demands, including the resignation of the Cabinet, new parliamentary and presidential elections, prosecution of the interior minister and a repeal of the new security measures. But when it became clear that Yanukovych would not take part in the negotiations himself, opposition leaders refused to participate.

"It makes sense to conduct negotiations only with those who make decisions and take responsibility for their implementation," opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said in televised remarks. "This is why Yanukovych must take part in negotiations on the part of the authorities."

Yanukovych did not respond to Klitschko's comments, but ruling party lawmaker Anna German said such initial consultations did not require the president's presence.

As the day wore on, neither side appeared to be backing down.

Monday morning, central Kiev's Grushevsky Street, which leads to the government complex that houses parliament and the Council of Ministers, looked like a scene from an apocalypse movie, with charred carcasses of several police buses still smoldering under layers of glistening ice.

Masked and helmeted protesters took cover behind the destroyed vehicles and threw bricks, cobblestones, flares and Molotov cocktails at lines of riot police protecting themselves with shields about 50 yards away.

When the attackers, who numbered in the hundreds, would temporarily retreat, police would pick up some of the stones and Molotov cocktails and toss them back while firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. The pattern was repeated, with little variation, throughout the day.

Talks founder amid clashes in Ukraine 01/20/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 12:15am]
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