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Protesters Block Government Buildings In Ukraine

A woman walks past a giant European Union flag hung on the gates of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers building in Kiev on Monday.
Sergei Supinsky
AFP/Getty Images
A woman walks past a giant European Union flag hung on the gates of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers building in Kiev on Monday.

A day after the largest protest since the Orange Revolution, protesters in the Ukraine blocked government buildings on Monday in an attempt to oust President Viktor Yanukovich.

Demonstrators are angry because Yanukovich abandoned a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. As Reuters explains, many in the Ukraine have yearned to become part of the EU to escape the grip of Moscow.

Some 300,000 people took to the streets Sunday. Today, Ukrainians continued to defy a court ban on protests. The BBC reports that demonstrators have blocked government workers from reaching the Cabinet of Ministers building, while others have besieged city hall. The Associated Press says some local officials seemed to join the revolt.

The mayor of Lviv, a major city in western Ukraine, encouraged protesters and "warned that police would take off their uniforms and defend the city if the central government sends reinforcements."

The AP adds:

"At least three lawmakers of the governing Party of Regions have quit in protest, and the opposition wants to oust the Cabinet of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov during a confidence vote in Parliament on Tuesday. But the opposition, which 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. He would not say whether the prime minister and his ministers were able to enter the Cabinet building, according to the Interfax news agency. Lukyanenko did not pick up the phone when The Associated Press tried to reach him."

The Wall Street Journal reports that Parliament has scheduled a no-confidence vote in the Azarov-led Cabinet for Tuesday, following 12 days of protests.

"It wasn't clear if the opposition would be able to muster the majority needed to pass the measure in parliament, where Mr. Yanukovych's Party of Regions still seems to hold a dominant position," the Journal said. "A few legislators have said they are leaving that party to join the protesters, but they don't seem to be enough to shift the balance."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.