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Protests turn increasingly combustible as Ukraine president announces talks (+video)

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(Read caption) Ukrainian police in full riot gear encircled tents and barricades erected by anti-government protesters ahead of a court-imposed deadline for demonstrators to disperse. Protesters are angry at the government's pivot towards Moscow.
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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has announced he is assembling a "nationwide panel discussion," consisting of himself and his three presidential predecessors, to establish "a platform for understanding" to resolve his country's rising instability.

But the meeting, set for Tuesday, may not come quickly enough for protesters, as riot police have begun to take up positions in Kiev, a day after hundreds of thousands took to the street to demand Mr. Yanukovych's resignation and that of his cabinet.

Yanukovych announced plans for the round table on the presidential website today. The site says that the proposal was put forward by Leonid Kravchuk, the country's first president.

Events on the ground may outpace the initiative, however, as Kiev appear to be increasingly combustible. The New York Times reports that the Ukrainian government shut down three subway stations around Independence Square in Kiev, as "battalions of police moved in and took up positions outside the perimeter of the main protest site."

Demonstrators were scrambling to reinforce barricades, and they moved public benches, wood planks and anything else available to add to the fortifications that have closed off the area for more than a week.

Some demonstrators appeared to be evacuating Kiev City Hall, which they had occupied, in the expectation that it would be an early target of any enforcement action. A crowd was gathering outside the building, including many television news crews, indicating that whatever happened would be highly publicized. ...

Senior government officials had promised Western diplomats that they would not seek to oust peaceful protesters by force. But the events of Sunday may have changed those calculations, as the authorities seemed to lose control of large swaths of the capital.

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