Ukraine special troops sent in, protests continue

Pro-EU Ukrainian demonstrators on Monday kept up their protest against President Viktor Yanukovich as the authorities sent internal troops and riot police into central Kiev in an increasingly tense showdown.

Upping the stakes after more than a fortnight of protests over the government’s rejection of a pact with the European Union, the protesters the day earlier symbolically toppled the statue of the Soviet Union’s founder Vladimir Lenin in Kiev.

Raising fears of a possible looming showdown with protesters, dozens of interior ministry troops and anti-riot police were sent into central Kiev and could be seen moving in columns through the streets.

“We are now going to defend our Maidan,” said opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, referring to Kiev’s Independence Square by its Ukrainian name.

Opposition MP Andriy Parubiy called on male protesters to man the barricades and women and children to go to a safe place inside the square. However there were no reports so far of any clashes.

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