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Image: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Protesters quit Kyiv city hall

February 16, 2014

Anti-government demonstrators in Ukraine are evacuating a key Kyiv building that has been at the center of anti-government demonstrations. The protesters had occupied the Kyiv city hall for the past two months.


Maidan protests

The evacuation on Sunday morning comes after authorities released 234 people detained in the ongoing political unrest. The building, in the Ukrainian capital's city center, became the headquarters for anti-government protesters after they occupied it in December.

Demonstrations broke out in November after President Viktor Yanukovych suspended an association agreement with the European Union that would have represented a major step towards joining the bloc. That move came in favor of closer economic ties with Russia. In December Moscow pledged a loan of $15 billion (10.98 billion euros) and lower gas prices for Ukraine.

After rallies turned violent, parliament last month repealed draconian anti-protest laws, voting to do so 361-2 during an extraordinary session. Under pressure, Yanukoych also sacked his government and offered key positions to opposition politicians.

However the opposition says that they will not abandon their posts until the president resigns.

More protests due Sunday

The move by anti-government protesters to quit the Kyiv city hall came hours ahead of a new mass demonstration on the central Independence Square.

Protesters are still occupying other public buildings and areas in Kyiv, including Independence Square, which has become a sprawling tent city barricaded on all sides by riot police.

While the 234 protesters detained in the movement were released from custody on Friday, the government's condition on them receiving amnesty is if the opposition agrees to vacate all government buildings it has occupied.

Some protesters have been charged with instigating mass unrest, which carries sentences of up to 15 years in jail.

jr/dr (dpa, AFP)

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