KYIV - Ukraine’s main opposition parties say they are prepared to continue talks with President Viktor Yanukovych in order to prevent an escalation of violence and further bloodshed.
The opposition warned in a statement, however, that protesters' patience could “snap” at any moment. It also claimed it had information that a decree ordering a state of emergency and and the dispersal of demonstrators in the capital Kyiv had been prepared by the Yanukovych administration.
Earlier Monday, Ukrainian Justice Minister Olena Lukash threatened to declare a state of emergency if protesters did not leave the justice ministry in Kyiv, which they seized late Sunday.
Following Lukash’s comments, though, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara said the government was not considering introducing a state of emergency.
Opposition leaders say Yanukovych's offer to name protest leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland Party as prime minister, and former boxing champion and leader of the UDAR party, Vitaly Klitschko, his deputy, is not enough to end the demonstrations, which are spreading eastward into parts of Ukraine considered loyal to the president.
Protests against Yanukovych and clashes between demonstrators and police have been reported Sunday in the central and eastern Ukrainian cities of Cherkasy, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya, among others.
Opposition supporters have seized regional government headquarters in 10 of Ukraine's 25 regions.
Marchers took to the streets in late November, after Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia.