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Ukraine PM warns of force as rallies escalate

Protests continue to escalate in the Ukraine as opposition party fails to topple government.

Last updated: 03 Dec 2013 23:00
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The government has warned of its capability of using further force against protesters [Reuters]

Massive rallies have continued in the Ukraine while the government warned of its capability of using force against protesters after the opposition lost a vote aimed at taking down the ruling party.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Tuesday made it clear that the government would not shy away from preventing the rising demonstrations by force.

"We have extended our hand to you, but if we encounter a fist, I will be frank, we have enough force," he said.

The renewed protests came after the opposition lost an attempt on Tuesday to topple the government by parliamentary means when a vote of no-confidence failed by a sizable margin.

Earlier on Tuesday, Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Kiev, said that the debate inside the parliament had descended into "shouting and shoving" between administration and opposition politicians.

Opposition members shouted "shame" and "revolution" as pro-government lawmakers spoke, while opposition speakers drew boos and jeer.

The no-confidence measure received 40 votes shy of the majority needed.

Even if it had passed, President Viktor Yanukovych would have remained president, but the prime minister and Cabinet would have been ejected.

Escalating demonstrations

Soon after Tuesday's vote, about 5,000 protesters gathered outside the presidential administration building, then moved to the capital's central Independence Square, where the crowd grew to more than 10,000 according to police estimates.

Vitali Klitschko, the super heavyweight world boxing champion and leader of the opposition party Udar, vowed that the protests would continue.

"We will peacefully blockade the government building and not allow them to work,'' he told demonstrators at Independence Square after the no-confidence motion failed.

Azarov warned that the anti-government protest in the capital Kiev are getting "out of control" and could turn into a coup.

The government appears to recognise that the police violence may have galvanised long-brewing frustrations rather than stifle protests.

Yanukovych has sought to quell public anger by moving to renew talks with Brussels.

There is a question as to how long protesters' determination will last as winter sets in and the holiday period approaches, noted Adrian Karatnycky, a Ukraine analyst at the Atlantic Council think-tank.

Protest leaders have vowed to continue their demonstrations, which have brought as many as 300,000 people to the streets of Kiev, in the largest outpouring of public anger since the 2004 Orange Revolution.

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