Protesters clash with police in Ukraine

Kiev, Jan 19 (EFE).- Groups of demonstrators and anti-riot police clashed Sunday in Kiev near the seat of Ukraine's government, media reports said.

The incidents began at the end of the huge peaceful opposition rally held Sunday in downtown Kiev, when several thousand protesters tried to break the police cordon set up next to the parliament building.

The demonstrators moved and set fire to one of the police buses that was blocking their passage.

"Approaching to less than three meters (yards) from the officers will be considered an attack on their physical integrity," the police warned using loudspeakers.

The protesters threw firecrackers, flares and stun grenades at the anti-riot personnel, who responded by firing tear gas canisters into their midst.

Making an appearance at the site of the incidents was world boxing champion and opposition UDAR party leader Vitali Klitschko, who tried to calm the crowd.

One of the radical demonstrators, however, sprayed Klitschko with a fire extinguisher.

"What you're doing is very dangerous," the opposition leader told the crowd via bullhorn minutes later after recovering from the fire extinguisher assault.

Nevertheless, Klitschko's words were received with disapproving cries from the demonstrators.

The peaceful rally that preceded the violence was staged within the context of the anti-government protests that have erupted here after President Viktor Yanukovych froze ties with the European Union and turned toward Russia, which has promised the government a $15 billion bailout loan with an eye toward aiding Ukraine's struggling economy and increasing Kiev's dependence on Moscow.