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Ukraine protesters seize Ministry of Justice building

Anti-government protesters on Sunday seized and occupied the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice building in Kiev and did not disperse until a government minister threatened to initiate a state of emergency Monday morning. The Ukrainian civic group Spilna Sprava, translated as "Common Cause," has reportedly claimed responsibility [RT report] for the Ministry of Justice raid and earlier raids at the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Energy buildings. The formerly peaceful protests have become increasingly violent with reports of detained protesters being abused by police. Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych [official website] promised concessions [JURIST report] on Friday in response to the growing unrest in the country. The demonstrators are calling for Yanukovych to resign and for new elections to be held. Presidential allies still control a majority of parliament, despite pressure amid the clashes for members to resign. Spilna Sprava has reportedly claimed they will reoccupy the buildings if concessions are not made.

The civil unrest has gripped Ukraine for the past two months. Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for dialogue [JURIST report] between protesters and Ukraine officials to end the violence. Their statements came after Yanukovych signed a controversial anti-protest bill [JURIST report] that included bans on protesters wearing masks or helmets and the dissemination of Internet slander. Human Rights Watch urged Ukraine authorities to end the use of intimidation tactics [JURIST report] against protesters in December. The demonstrations began earlier that month after Yanukovych rejected a planned trade pact with the EU.

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