KIEV, December 9 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine said late Sunday that its security services are investigating a forcible attempt to seize power in the former Soviet nation that has been convulsed by anti-government protests.
“We are investigating the fact of illegal actions. During the course of the investigation we will clarify the circumstances and gather additional information,” Ukrainian security services spokesman Vlad Safonov said.
Hundreds of thousands of people flooded central Kiev on Sunday for the second consecutive weekend to call for snap elections and the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, the latest huge gathering in a wave of demonstrations sparked by a government decision last month to back off from closer European integration.
Protestors in Kiev have built a permanent tent camp in Kiev’s central Independence Square, and barricaded public buildings in recent weeks in an attempt to freeze the work of the government.
New barricades were being erected in Kiev late Sunday and early Monday morning with materials taken from a construction shop, according to a RIA Novosti reporter in Kiev.
Opposition leader Vitaly Klychko said that the authorities' latest move showed panic in official circles. “The government is intimidated itself and does everything in order to scare people,” he said in a statement.
At least 10 people have been arrested in connection with violent clashes in Kiev on December 1 that broke out when a mob attempted to break through lines of riot police guarding the presidential administration.
Ukrainian police have also opened a case under “mass unrest” articles of the criminal code after the toppling of a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin, reportedly by Ukrainian nationalists, in Kiev on Sunday. Police denied reports from an opposition deputy Monday that arrests had been carried out in connection with the incident.
Officials have repeatedly condemned protestor tactics, and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said last week that some actions by demonstrators bore all the hallmarks of a coup.