KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A resolution to Ukraine's political turmoil remained elusive Wednesday as thousands of people continued rallying on Kiev's Independence Square and besieging key government buildings.
President Viktor Yanukovych was out of the country on an official trip to China and the government showed no signs of yielding. Law enforcement bodies have brought dozens of charges against demonstrators, and nine people remain in detention following Sunday's rally when several hundred thousand protested Yanukovych's decision to freeze ties with the European Union and use force against a handful of peaceful demonstrators last month.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who survived a chaotic no-confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday, urged the opposition to end its blockade of government buildings and warned the western regions of the country, where local officials had announced protest strikes, that they may be left without federal funding.
"We must decide all this in a calm environment. Not in the streets, but in a responsible dialogue," Azarov told a Cabinet meeting.
Demonstrators have set up scores of tents on the square, the epicenter of protests against the Ukrainian government, and blocked several streets leading to it with tall barricades of wooden pallets and random material. Large piles of wood dot the square, fuel for fires that keep the demonstrators warm in the freezing temperatures.
"We are now defending ... 46 million people. Either they will defeat us, or we will defeat them," opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters. "The situation is such that there is no third option."
Last month, Yanukovych's government abruptly halted preparations to sign a key political and economic agreement with the EU and focus on ties with Russia instead. Russia has used strong economic pressure to derail the deal, unwilling to lose this former part of its empire to the West.