Ukraine protesters, police locked in tense standoff

AFP, Thursday 23 Jan 2014

Ukrainian protesters and police were locked in a tense standoff early Thursday at the site of deadly clashes that activists said left five dead.

Ukrainian Berkut riot police were holding their line on Grushevsky Street in central Kiev as hundreds of protesters faced them on the other side of barricades, television pictures showed.

There were sporadic clashes with demonstrators throwing stones and the police responding with stun grenades but there was a relative lull compared with Wednesday's ferocious clashes.

The demonstrators had overnight further fortified their barricades with sandbags filled with snow. Their frontline was marked by burning tyres which were still on fire in blazes that the police had been unable to extinguish despite the use of water cannon.

The opposition has warned President Viktor Yanukovych he has one final chance Thursday to offer concessions, otherwise the protesters will "go on the attack".

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