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Protests Continue to Escalate in Ukraine
Protests Continue to Escalate in Ukraine

Violent protests in Ukraine have spread beyond the capital, Kiev, as President Viktor Yanukovych held crisis talks with three key opposition leaders.

The anti-government protests flared in late November over President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to pull out of a landmark treaty with the European Union. When the protests began losing momentum, Vitali Klitschko, the head of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms (UDAR) opposition party, said that they would seek a peaceful political solution to replace Yanukovych in the 2015 presidential election.

Talks between Yanukovych and the opposition leaders are likely to continue; anti-government demonstrators in Kyiv agreed to a truce with police pending the outcome. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov dismissed the possibility of an early presidential election, but did not exclude changing the Jan. 16 anti-protest legislation that infuriated the opposition activists and their supporters. The potential compromise came amid protests in western regions of the country, including Lviv and Ternopil, where demonstrators reportedly seized regional government offices on Jan. 23. While the imposition of a state of emergency is unlikely, protests in Kyiv and other cities will likely continue.

Avoid any crowds of protesters and large concentrations of police. Use alternate routes to avoid possible rally sites in major cities, especially Independence Square and European Square in Kyiv. Exercise caution and increased vigilance near other common protest sites in the capital city. Seek shelter inside buildings if clashes erupt, but do not relocate to underground metro stations, where tear gas vapors could concentrate. Maintain contact with your home country's embassy.