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Thousands Attend Funeral Of Slain Protester In Kyiv

  • RFE/RL

Thousands of people have packed into a Kyiv cathedral for the funeral of a Belarusian man who was shot dead during clashes between protesters and police in Kyiv last week.

Mourners spilled into the street outside the cathedral on January 26, on what reportedly would have been Mikhail Zhyzneuski's 26th birthday.

On the same day, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged authorities and protesters to stop the violence, adding that there were still ways out of the current crisis.

"I believe that there is only one piece of advice we can give: Ukraine's path into the future can't be found with the use of violence, no matter which side it comes from," he said. "I'm convinced that even though the situation is difficult the last chances for a political resolution haven't yet been exhausted."

Demonstrations, meanwhile, continued on January 26 in Kyiv and other cities.

In the capital late on January 26, dozens of protesters occupied the Justice Ministry building and set up barricades outside.

Overnight, protesters attacked the "Ukrainian House," a building police and security forces were using as a base. The building is located some 100 meters from Independence Square, where antigovernment protesters have been rallying since late November.

Protesters eventually allowed police to vacate the building before occupying it themselves. The group said they intended to set up a press center in the building, which was the Lenin Museum during Soviet times.

WATCH: Protesters Storm Ukrainian House In Kyiv

In an interview with the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS on January 26, Defense Minister Pavel Lebedev excluded the possibility that the military would be called in to resolve the stand-off between protesters and police.

"The Army will strictly follow the constitution and laws of Ukraine that clearly lay out its role, functions, and tasks," he said.

President Viktor Yanukovych met with opposition leaders on January 26, offering them two senior posts to defuse the crisis.

Yanukovych offered Arseniy Yatsenyuk the post of prime minister and Vitali Klitschko the post of deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs, in an apparent bid to ease protests that are now spreading from Kyiv to other parts of the country.

Yatsenyuk and Klitschko did not agree to take the positions. However, they pledged that opposition leaders would continue to hold talks with Yanukovych, with the next meeting set for January 31.

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Protesters have also occupied regional administration offices in cities in western Ukraine, including Lviv, Rivne, Ternopil, and Khmelnytsky.

In Lviv on January 24, protesters blocked employees from entering the regional administration building after forcing the regional governor to sign a letter of resignation the previous day.

In another development, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Ukrainian authorities to find an activist who has disappeared.

HRW said in a statement that protest leader Dmytro Bulatov was last seen on January 23, and that since then his cell phone has ceased working and his car is missing.

HRW said it is "gravely concerned" about Bulatov's life and safety.

HRW noted that two other prominent protest activists were kidnapped on January 21.

Assailants later released Ihor Lutsenko, who was hospitalized with injuries. Yuri Verbitsky, whose body showed signs of torture, was found dead on January 22.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and ITAR-TASS