Update 11:09 a.m. According to multiple reports, police armed with AK-47s have stormed the headquarters for Batkivshchyna, an opposition party, in Kiev. At least one report says police have damaged servers and won't let anyone leave.
Original: Protesters avoided another violent crackdown in Ukraine's capital on Monday after President Viktor Yanukovich agreed to negotiations with three former Presidents to try and calm tensions in the country.
Yanukovych announced the "nationwide panel discussion with participation of both government and opposition" on his website Monday morning, only hours after protestors toppled Kiev's statue of Vladimir Lenin. Hundreds of riot police flooded Independence Square on Monday, stroking fears of another crackdown on opposition protesters, angry after Yanukovych abandoned a pact with European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. But the situation seemed to calm down following news of the negotiations.
Klichko has asked women and children to leave #euromaidan. This could get bad, you guys.— The Moscow News (@themoscownews) December 9, 2013
Meanwhile, in Ukraine: it looks like riot police may be about to start dispersals in the city center. Things are getting tense. #euromaidan— The Moscow News (@themoscownews) December 9, 2013
Dispersal apparently not on the agenda right this minute. Awaiting to hear more on proposed negotiations b/w govt & opposition. #euromaidan— The Moscow News (@themoscownews) December 9, 2013
The new talks, scheduled for Tuesday, were brought forward by first President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk. Yanukovych hopes they will "become a platform for understanding," between his government and the opposition, who want him out of office and new elections called. Whether Vitali Klitschko — face of the opposition movement, leader of the Udar party, and current WBC heavyweight champion — will be present at the meeting is unclear at this time. Klitschko was joined at the protests this weekend by his brother, Wladimir, and his future sister-in-law (yep), Hayden Panettiere.
One former leader who presumably won't be there is Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister who was jailed on corruption charges after being defeated by Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election. She has also called for Yanukovych's resignation and her release is among the demands being made by his opponents.
Protests against Yanukovych's government peaked this weekend with the toppling of the Vladimir Lenin statue, which some have called a "Berlin Wall moment." More and more citizens are joining the protests in Kiev and the political crisis is not abating anytime soon.
After a series of violent incidents between police and the opposition, protestors received new support from priests and veterans hoping to prevent bloodshed.