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Tens of Thousands of Ukrainians Protest in Kyiv

Ukrainian protesters are continuing anti-government demonstrations sparked by President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign a free trade pact with the European Union.

Thousands of people were camped Monday in Kiev's central square, a day after more than 100,000 protesters gathered in the capital to call for the president and his government to resign.

The demonstrations have been growing for days, and one of those gathered in the square Monday signaled the protesters are determined to stay.



"You see these tents here, we came here and we will stay here until the cabinet resigns and the parliament is dissolved and the president also leaves. We will not go home, we know they (the authorities) will fight to the end but we will not leave. That's why we are here."



The country's parliament speaker Volodymyr Rybak told Ukrainian television that he expected talks to be held Monday between authorities and the opposition. He also said he and the president support peaceful demonstrators expressing their views.



The protests in Kiev turned violent Sunday as police responded with tear gas and flash grenades to a few thousand demonstrators who broke away from a peaceful rally and tried to storm a nearby administration building.

The crowd was defying a government order against demonstrations. Ambulances carried dozens of injured people to hospitals.

President Yanukovych decided last week against the trade agreement with the EU, saying Ukraine needed to continue its close ties with Russia.

The announcement reverberated through an EU summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, where the president had been expected to sign the deal Friday.

European news reports say the EU-Ukraine deal began unraveling in late October when Moscow demanded that cash-strapped Kyiv immediately make full payment of a nearly $1 billion natural gas bill, or face a gas cutoff as winter hits the region.

Moscow has also in recent months imposed restrictions on Ukrainian imports, dragging the Ukrainian economy into recession and triggering a warning from Moscow of more economic difficulties if Kyiv signed the EU pact.

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