Ukrainian riot police withdraw after overnight move on demonstrators

  • Riot police remove a barricade set up by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists guard the barricade during clashes with riot police in Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Pro-EU protesters face riot police in Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Riot policemen stand in front of protesters in Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • A line of Ukranian riot police moves past pro-European integration protestors in Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Riot policemen hide behind a bus as pro-EU protesters poor water on them from windows in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Some of the riot policemen leave Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Pro-EU protesters react as they face off with riot police in Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists try to strengthen the barricades next to their tent camps as riot policemen block them in Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Protesters wave flags and shout slogans on Independence Square in Kiev Dec. 3, 2013.
  • Protestors clash with police during a demonstration in support of EU integration in Kiev Dec. 3, 2013.
  • Protestors wave flags and shout slogans outside parliament in Kiev Dec. 3, 2013.
  • Ukrainians attend a rally at the central Independence square in Kiev, Ukraine, on Dec. 2, 2013.
  • Protesters rest in the Kiev City Council building which they occupied in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Dec. 2, 2013.
  • A protester carries a Ukrainian flag as he stands on barricades at Independence Square in Kiev Dec. 2, 2013.
  • Protesters gather near barricades at Independence Square in Kiev on Dec. 2, 2013.
  • Protesters gather near barricades at Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 2, 2013.
  • A protester participates in a demonstration at Independance Square in Kiev, Dec. 2, 2013.
  • A woman distributes food and tea to protesters at Independence Square in Kiev Dec 2, 2013.
  • An Orthodox priest sits on a bench in a barricade erected in Independent Square in Kiev, Dec. 2, 2013.
  • Protesters supporting EU integration participate in a rally at Independence Square in Kiev Dec. 2, 2013. Ukrainian protesters blockaded the main government building on Monday, seeking to force President Viktor Yanukovich from office with a general strike after hundreds of thousands demonstrated against his decision to abandon an EU integration pact.
  • Man throws a flare in the direction of Interior Ministry members during a rally held by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013. Ukrainian opposition leaders called on Sunday for President Yanukovich and his government to resign at a rally of some 350,000 people, the biggest protest in the capital since the “Orange Revolution” nine years ago.
  • Protesters try to break through police lines near the presidential building during a rally held by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013. Ukrainian opposition leaders called on Sunday for President Yanukovich and his government to resign at a rally of about 350,000 people, the biggest protest in the capital since the “Orange Revolution” nine years ago.
  • Protesters throw stones at police during a rally held by supporters of EU integration in Kiev Dec. 1, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians shouting “Down with the Gang!” rallied on Sunday against President Viktor Yanukovich’s U-turn on Europe and some used a building excavator to try to break through police lines at his headquarters.
  • Riot police stand guard at Independence Square during a demonstration in Kiev, Nov. 30, 2013. Police used batons and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of pro-Europe protesters from the city’s main square early on Saturday.
  • Protesters react during a rally held by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • Protesters rest in front of St. Michael’s cathedral in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • Riot police stand guard during a rally held by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • Riot police break up protesters near the presidential administration building during a rally held by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013. Ukrainian opposition leaders called on Sunday for President Viktor Yanukovich and his government to resign at a rally of about 350,000 people, the biggest protest in the capital since the “Orange Revolution” nine years ago.
  • Protesters clash with riot police near the presidential administration building in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • People climb up onto a gate near the presidential administration building during a rally in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • Protesters providing medical assistance are seen at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kiev, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • Ukrainian protesters clash with riot policemen outside the Ukrainian President’s office in Kiev on Dec. 1, 2013. Violent clashes broke out between police and demonstrators as some 100,000 outraged Ukrainians swarmed central Kiev in a call for early elections meant to punish authorities for rejecting a historic EU pact.
  • Protesters practice defense tactics during a rally in front of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kiev, Nov. 30, 2013.
  • A child looks out of a car window as demonstrators protest outside the St. Michael’€™s Monastery in Kiev, Nov. 30, 2013.
  • A pro-European Ukrainian demonstrator waves a flag in front of members of the riot police protecting the presidential office in Kiev as 100,000 outraged Ukrainians swarmed the city in a call for early elections meant to punish authorities for rejecting a historic EU pact, on Dec. 1, 2013.
  • Opposition protesters face riot police during a demonstration in Kiev, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • Opposition protesters face riot police during a demonstration in Kiev, Nov. 29, 2013.

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(Reuters) - Battalions of Ukrainian riot police withdrew on Wednesday from a protest camp after moving against demonstrators overnight in the authorities’ biggest attempt yet to reclaim streets after weeks of protests against President Viktor Yanukovich.

Columns of police abandoned positions around a protest camp and state buildings occupied by demonstrators enraged at Yanukovich’s decision to spurn an EU trade deal and move Ukraine further into Russia’s orbit.

Overnight the police had cleared streets near the protest camp, bulldozed tents and skirmished with demonstrators. They later surrounded the City Hall, where protesters who have set up a makeshift hospital in the occupied building sprayed them with water hoses to prevent it from being stormed.


At stake is the future of a country of 46 million people, torn between popular hope of joining the European mainstream and the demands of former Soviet master Russia, which controls the flow of cheap natural gas needed to stave off bankruptcy.

Read more about the protests.

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