Ukraine President Agrees to Talks Aimed at Defusing Protests

Talks with three ex-presidents to try and defuse mass protests that have swept the capital

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President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine has agreed to talks with three ex-presidents in an effort to defuse the mass protests that have swept the capital of Kiev.

Yanukovych called the meeting to take place Tuesday “a nationwide roundtable,” the Associated Press reports.

Protesters spent a frigid night on the streets in Kiev following a massive anti-government demonstration on Sunday. A group of protesters smashed the city’s statue of Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin and carried parts of the dismembered statue into the city’s Independence Square. The protesters are demanding that Ukraine forge closer ties with the European Union and oppose a customs union with Russia. They have called for the resignation of Yanukovych and elections for a new president, after Yanukovych did not sign an association agreement with the E.U. last month. Yanukovych said that an agreement with the E.U. would risk the country’s trade with Russia.

The demonstrations that have followed are the largest in Ukraine since the 2004 Orange Revolution.