Kiev warns of terrorism threat amid protests
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's security agency on Sunday warned of a heightened risk of terrorism, including from nearly three months of anti-government protests. The warning raised the pressure on the opposition as parliament tries to find a way out of the crisis.
The Security Service of Ukraine said it was putting its counter-terrorism units on alert, after receiving a large number of bomb threats across the country at airports, train stations, pipelines and other locations. In what was seen as a warning to the opposition, the seizure of government buildings also would be viewed as manifestations of terrorism, the agency said in a statement.
Some 30,000 people turned out for a rally on Kiev's Independence Square, known as the Maidan, on Sunday, the day the demonstrations usually draw the largest crowds.
Opposition leaders demanded a constitutional reform that would reduce presidential powers and early elections in which they hope to unseat President Viktor Yanukovych. The measures are currently being discussed in the national parliament, which is controlled by Yanukovych loyalists who so far have rejected those demands.
"The authorities are already scared of us," opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok told the crowd. "We need to press them further."
The protests started after Yanukovych ditched a key treaty with the European Union in favor of a bailout loan from Russia.
Protesters and police have been maintaining a shaky truce at giant barricades near a government district in Kiev for several weeks, after three activists were killed in clashes last month. Another one was found dead outside Kiev after being kidnapped from a hospital.
Many activists said Sunday they were ready to resume confrontations with police, if Yanukovych refused to concede to their demands.
"We are already tired of standing on the Maidan," said Dmytro Shulets, 47. "Nothing happens without a fight. If talks fail, we will resort to force again."
Associated Press writer Maria Danilova contributed to this report.