Ukrainian PM Azarov: Opposition Protests 'Genuine Coup Attempt'
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has accused opposition protesters of trying to stage a coup d'etat, categorically ruling out early presidential elections.
"A genuine attempt at a coup d'etat is being carried out," Russian agency Interfax quoted Azarov as saying.
He was quoted as saying the unrest, in which three people on the side of the protesters have been killed, made it "absolutely unrealistic" to held an early presidential vote.
The next presidential vote is to be held in spring 2015.
Azarov's statement came after hree activists were killed in clashes with police in Kiev on Wednesday and hundreds were injured.
Ukrainian opposition leaders issued Wednesday evening an ultimatum to President Viktor Yanukovych.
Vitali Klitschko said he would lead pro-EU protesters "on the attack" in the capital, Kiev, if the government refused to call snap elections.
Speaking at a mass rally on Wednesday evening, Klitschko said the president could end the stand-off "without bloodshed" by calling early elections, but that "tomorrow, if the president does not respond... then we will go on the attack", to roars of approval from the crowd.
Klitschko said police were preparing to clear demonstrators out of the main protest encampment at Maidan (or Independence Square).
"We must do all we can to stop them clearing us out," he told demonstrators.
Another opposition leader, Arseniy Yatseniuk, said the government had 24 hours to respond to the demands, which also include the lifting of the new anti-protest laws.
"If this does not happen, we will march forward together. If it's a bullet to the head, then it's a bullet to the head," he declared.
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