Thousands of Ukrainian protesters have blocked entrances to a government building and called for the removal of the prime minister and his cabinet, as anger at the president’s decision to ditch a deal for closer ties with the European Union swept the country and threatened his rule.
The demonstration on Monday followed a huge rally in the capital by hundreds of thousands Ukrainians a day earlier, which was mostly peaceful, until a group of protesters tried to storm President Viktor Yanukovych’s office.
Al Jazeera’s David Chater, reporting from Kiev said, the government has ordered a thousand interior ministry troops to secure government buildings, as the number of protesters continue to grow.
“The blockade is severely disrupting the process of government here,” Chater said. “Essentially President Yanukovych has lost control of the centre of Kiev.”
The latest round of protests has been further fuelled by police action against protesters on Saturday. The protesters want to bring down the president and his government.
Our goal is to oust the authorities through strikes.
At least three lawmakers of the governing Party of Regions have quit, and the opposition wants to oust the cabinet of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov during a confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday.
But the opposition, who now controls some 170 seats would need 226 votes in the 450-seat parliament to oust the government.
Azarov’s spokesman Vitaly Lukyanenko on Monday said the government was not planning to impose a state of emergency.
In parts of western Ukraine, where most speak Ukrainian and lean toward the EU, some local officials seem to be in open revolt.
The mayor of Lviv called on the people there to protest and warned that police would take off their uniforms and defend the city if central government sends reinforcements. Scores of protesters from Lviv and elsewhere in western Ukraine headed to Kiev by train and cars to take part in the rallies.
“Yanukovych is, both, as President and as a politician done,” said Andreas Umland, assistant professor of European studies at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy.
In Kiev, thousands returned at Independence Square, where several hundred core protesters had spent the night in a tent camp. Hundreds of others were holding ground inside the Kiev city hall and a labour union building, where they had barricaded themselves on Sunday.
“Our goal is to oust the authorities through strikes,” said Serhiy Korchinsky, 35, an engineer from Lviv who spent the night in the protest camp. “The government will be paralysed until Yanukovych and Azarov resign.”
Protests have been held daily in Kiev since Yanukovych backed away from an agreement that would have established free trade and deepened political cooperation between Ukraine and the EU. He justified the decision by saying that Ukraine couldn’t afford to break trade ties with Russia.
With the news of the deployment of more troops to Kiev’s government centre,