Ukraine Minister Threatens State of Emergency

Justice minister threatens extreme measures if protestors don't vacate her department's building

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ddp images / Sipa USA

Protesters behind barricades in Kiev, Jan. 25, 2014.

A top Ukrainian minister threatened on Monday to force anti-government protesters from a ministry building in Kiev by warning she would declare a state of emergency if they didn’t retreat.

The order would introduce a curfew and suspend political party activities, limit the movement of people and vehicles, and ban strikes, marches and rallies. “If the Justice Ministry is not freed instantly, I will have to talk to my colleagues in National Security Council about implementing state of emergency in this country,” said Justice Minister Olena Lukash, in a video address.

The threat comes after members of the Splina Sparava (Common Cause) movement in the capital occupied the building, the third occupation in four days. The agricultural ministry was occupied on Friday and entered the energy building on Saturday, but left the latter when the minister warned their actions could disrupt Ukraine’s energy supplies.

An emergency legislative session scheduled for Tuesday is intended to defuse the political crisis that has wracked Kiev since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych chose to establish closer relations with Russia rather than sign a trade deal with the European Union. Opposition leaders said an offer from Yanukovych for two of the leaders to assume the roles of prime minister and deputy prime minister was not good enough.

At least six people have been killed in the clashes with police, which have spread to the eastern cities Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhya, two of Yanukovych’s strongholds.

[Reuters, AP]