Following the rejection of President Yanukovych’s offers of key positions to opposition leaders (because key demands were not met), unrest is now spreading further into the country’s east, which is seen as Mr Yanukovych’s support base (as we discussed here). As The BBC reports, at least a dozen attempts by protesters to seize government buildings were made with the Justice Ministry successfully over-run. Justice Minister Olena Lukash, an ally of Yanukovych and involved in the negotiations, has called for a “state of emergency” if protesters – who claim “the seizure of the Ministry of Justice is a symbolic act of the people of the uprising. Now, these authorities are stripped of justice,” – do not leave. Furthermore, he said she would be “forced to turn to the Ukrainian president with a request to stop the negotiations unless the justice ministry building is vacated without delay.” The Ukraine Hyrvnia has weakened markedly despite the central bank’s intervention.
The UAH is now at its weakest since September 2009…
This is the biggest plunge in the UAH since August 2009…
Even though – Ukraine’s central bank was selling currency (dollars) today to commercial banks at 8.4 hryvnia per dollar, Interfax reported, citing bank dealers
Ukraine’s justice minister has warned anti-government protesters occupying her ministry she will call for a state of emergency if they do not leave.
Olena Lukash told local media she would ask the National Security and Defence Council to introduce the measures.
The ministry became the latest government building to be occupied on Sunday, with protesters setting up bags of snow as barricades outside.
Unrest and occupations of municipal buildings are spreading across Ukraine.
Buildings have come under attack even in eastern areas, which have traditionally had closer ties with Russia and where President Viktor Yanukovych has enjoyed strong support.
“The seizure of the Ministry of Justice is a symbolic act of the people of the uprising. Now, these authorities are stripped of justice,” one protester told reporters.
One of the organisers of the occupation, who gave his name as Oleg, told the Associated Press news agency: “We are not going to do any hooliganism, or have anyone hurt. We are peaceful people, we are for justice.”
But Ms Lukash told Inter TV channel: “If the protesters do not leave the justice ministry building… I will ask the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine to impose the state of emergency.”
The minister is an ally of President Yanukovych and involved in the ongoing negotiations between the government and protest leaders.
She said she would be “forced to turn to the Ukrainian president with a request to stop the negotiations unless the justice ministry building is vacated without delay and the negotiators are given a chance to find a peaceful solution to the conflict”.
The fresh unrest comes after opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk rejected President Yanukovych’s offer to appoint him prime minister, saying the key demands must be met.
Although the protest movement – the EuroMaidan – is largely peaceful, a hardcore of radicals have been fighting battles with police away from the main protest camp in Kiev’s Maidan, or Independence Square.
The unrest is now spreading further into the country’s east, which is seen as Mr Yanukovych’s support base.