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Ukraine PM warns protesters as delegation seeks financial help in Moscow

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People gather in front of the Ukrainian cabinet of ministers building during a rally to support EU integration in Kiev December 4, 2013. Reuters People gather in front of the Ukrainian cabinet of ministers building during a rally to support EU integration in Kiev December 4, 2013. Reuters
SummaryThe crisis has again exposed a tug-of-war playing out in Ukraine.

settling the debt.

Azarov's government survived an attempt to topple it in parliament on Tuesday in a rough encounter with opposition parties at which he had apologised for police heavy-handedness in which scores of people were hurt.

Trying to defuse protests, the government has defended its foreign policy switch by saying that it marks only a "pause" in moves to integrate further with Europe, rather than an about-turn. As if to underscore this point on Wednesday, Azarov said a delegation would also leave soon for Brussels.

ROUTES TO POWER BLOCKED

Hundreds of protesters, bearing the national flag or the standard of opposition political parties, rallied on Wednesday near official buildings, but found many routes blocked by vehicles which interior ministry forces had stationed across streets and approach roads.

"We don't like this government, young people in Ukraine want to join Europe. We want to be able to study and work freely in Europe, that is where Ukraine's future lies," said Christina Yavorskaya, 21, a student from the Chernobyl district in western Ukraine. "We want European salaries, a European way of life. There is no future with Russia."

"There is a chance of getting these bandits out of office. And as long as there is that chance, we'll be standing here," said Misha Skoropad, 38, who came on a bus from the western city of Lviv to protest near the presidential headquarters.

The opposition is a loose alliance of political factions ranging from pro-EU liberals to hardline nationalists, without a galvanising figure in the mould of Yulia Tymoshenko, who co-led the Orange Revolution but was jailed for abuse of power after Yanukovich became president.

Some analysts see Vitaly Klitschko, a heavyweight boxing world champion and now leader of the opposition Udar (Punch) party, emerging from the pack, though he is largely untested.

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