25 Jan 2014

Street fighting in Ukraine capital

9:34 pm on 25 January 2014

Violence has continued in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, after President Viktor Yanukovych promised to make concessions to try to end the country's crisis

As dawn broke on Saturday local time, fires still burned in the city centre.

Overnight, protesters threw rocks and petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas.

Ukrainian anti-government protesters stand on a makeshift barricade during clashes with riot police in Kiev.

Ukrainian anti-government protesters stand on a makeshift barricade during clashes with riot police in Kiev. Photo: AFP

Mr Yanukovich made his offer on Friday in comments to church leaders as the protesters erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building in Kiev.

The president's Party of the Regions confirmed reports that two months of protests had spread to other parts of Ukraine, particularly to pro-European Union western regions, where it said "extremists" had seized administrative buildings.

Mr Yanukovich said key decisions would be made at a special session of parliament scheduled to take place next Tuesday but gave no indication of how wide the government reshuffle would be.

It was by no means certain Prime Minister Mykola Azarov or any other key figures would have to step down, Reuters reported. The dismissal of the Azarov government has been one of the main demands of the opposition.

The promise to reconsider anti-protest legislation, which was rail-roaded through parliament last week by Yanukovich loyalists, also appeared to be a concession, which may take some steam out of fresh protest rallies planned for the weekend.

Protesters erected barricades in Lviv, western Ukraine.

Protesters erected barricades in Lviv, western Ukraine. Photo: AFP

The mass rallies against Mr Yanukovich's rule erupted last November after he pulled out of a free trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer economic ties with Russia.

They have since spiralled into protests against misrule and corruption among Ukraine's leaders and officials and there have been violent clashes with police in Kiev city centre in which three protesters died this week, two from gunshot wounds.

The protesters control key parts of the city centre, including its main Independence Square. On Friday, they occupied the main agricultural ministry building after talks stalled on Thursday night between Yanukovich and the opposition.

Thousands stormed regional administration headquarters in Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnytsky in western and central Ukraine, as well as parts of the northeast, the Party of the Regions said.