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     Home > Justice and Peace >  2014-02-21 08:32:00
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Fresh violence erupts in Ukraine



Kiev, Feb 21, 2014: The influential Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) says it has removed prayers for the government from its liturgy after as many as 100 people died Thursday when a truce broke down between security forces and anti-government protesters. The clashes came while European Union ministers attempted to talk with the embattled president Viktor Yanukovich.

Central Kiev turned into a war zone. Demonstrators were running for cover as snipers and other security forces attack them. Protesters, some of them wearing helmets, rushed to carry away what appear to be dead bodies. At least scores of people are now known to have died after a short-lived truce crumbled Thursday when gunfire first erupted at Independence Square, the centre of anti-government protests. Earlier, furious protesters tried to storm the security services building in the western city Khmelnitsky. Soon more bloodshed unfolded.

In an unprecedented move, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church leadership says prayers for the current government will no longer be included in the liturgy. Instead the denomination's ruling body, known as the Holy Synod, advised believers to ask God to protect Ukraine and its people, and to pray and the many victims. It expressed concern that authorities have reportedly begun using assault weapons, including snipers with automatic rifles, against Ukrainian people, leaving dozens dead and hundreds injured.

The international community has also expressed shock about the fighting. On Thursday, the German, French and Polish Foreign Ministers met Ukraine’s embattled president Viktor Yanukovich and were to meet the opposition as part of efforts to end the crisis.

Russian media said Russia's President Vladimir Putin also planned to send an envoy to mediate between Ukraine's leader and the opposition, underscoring a geopolitical battle for the future of this former Soviet nation. Amid the tensions, European Union ministers are considering sanctions, including possible steps such as asset and travel bans. The United States has already announced U.S. visa bans on 20 Ukrainian government officials who it claims were “responsible for ordering human rights abuses related to political oppression”. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged President Yanukovich to end the crackdown.

"President Yanukovich has to decide whether he wants to protect his people, or further mayhem," he said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told Russian media that threats of sanctions are blackmail and accused the EU of arriving in Kiev on uninvited missions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the situation in Ukraine, amid some concerns that Russian forces may intervene.
(Source: Vatican Radio)





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