Ukraine, Russia presidents meet; protests persist

Ukraine, Russia presidents meet; protests persist
# 06 December 2013 21:41 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych met with his Russian counterpart Friday to discuss closer cooperation while protests clung to the capital over Ukraine's decision to scrap a deal with the EU, APA reports quoting Associated Press.

Yanukovych met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi on his way back from a state visit to China. Yanukovych's office said the talks were about trade and economic cooperation and preparations for signing a partnership agreement.

No details were given, but the meeting is a challenge to leaders of the protests that broke out last month after Yanukovych stepped back from signing a long-anticipated agreement to deepen economic and political ties with the European Union. Moscow has been pressuring Ukraine to join a trade bloc including Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

After Yanukovych backed out of signing the agreement, officials said Ukraine remained committed to deeper integration with the EU, a statement that opposition leaders meet with derision.

"Their attempts to sell Ukraine to Russia have not ended in any way," Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of the main opposition party's faction in parliament, said Friday.

A sizeable tent camp for protesters — including field kitchens for the long haul — has been set up on Kiev's main square.

Crowds of protesters swell nightly to several thousand. Other protesters have occupied the city administration building and have blocked access to the presidential administration building.

Another top opposition figure on Friday said he was open to talking with officials to find a way out of the crisis, but only if the police who violently dispersed demonstrators are punished.

Oleh Tyanhybok, head of the nationalist Svobooda party, told reporters on Friday that "the opposition is ready to sit down, talk, negotiate change in the situation" to seek "an exit from the current political crisis."