Kiev court bans protests, stoking fears crackdown

AP , Wednesday 15 Jan 2014

A court has banned rallies in the center of the Ukrainian capital, raising fears that the government was preparing to tear down a large protest encampment that has been the epicenter of anti-government protests for weeks.

The demonstrations broke out in November after President Viktor Yanukovych's abrupt decision to freeze ties with the European Union and seek better ties with Russia instead.

A Kiev court upheld a request by city authorities to ban large gatherings in the center of the capital until March 8. The ruling was dated Jan. 8 but only published on Wednesday.

Opposition leaders charged that authorities were preparing to use force to disperse protesters on Independence Square, where several thousand people were gathered.

The Interior Ministry, however, issued a statement saying it has no such plans.

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