Police break up protesters in southern Ukraine region

Anti-government protesters gather around a fire to get warm at a road block in Kiev on Jan 26, 2014. Ukrainian police on Sunday, Jan 26, 2014, dispersed thousands of protesters who had rallied in the south-eastern region of Zaporozhiya in a bid
Anti-government protesters gather around a fire to get warm at a road block in Kiev on Jan 26, 2014. Ukrainian police on Sunday, Jan 26, 2014, dispersed thousands of protesters who had rallied in the south-eastern region of Zaporozhiya in a bid to capture a regional administration building, a statement said. -- PHOTO: AFP

KIEV (AFP) - Ukrainian police on Sunday, Jan 26, 2014, dispersed thousands of protesters who had rallied in the south-eastern region of Zaporozhiya in a bid to capture a regional administration building, a statement said.

"Thanks to the measures taken, the attempt was thwarted," a statement by regional police said, adding that 3,000 protesters were involved in the action.

Local journalists wrote on Facebook that the police had used stun grenades and batons to disperse the protest, leaving many injured.

"The Berkut (anti-riot police) cleared the square. Everything was very tough and cruel," wrote journalist Maxim Shcherbin on his Facebook page.

Activists have stormed and held regional administration buildings in western Ukraine over the past days as part of the nationwide protests against the rule of President Viktor Yanukovych.

These protests have now spread further east into areas where the President was once seen as having strong support in a major new headache for Mr Yanukovych.

"The police used their batons to drive people out of the shopping centre where the protesters were warming themselves and then launched a total clean up operation," local protest leader Igor Andrushchenko told pro-protest web channel Espreso TV.