KIEV, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine's wave of protests seems unlikely to subside any time soon, despite parliament scrapping controversial anti-protest laws and the government stepping down.
Activists say they will continue to stage demonstrations, pressing for fulfillment of all their demands, including early presidential and parliamentary elections, release of all detained protesters and a review of the constitution.
NEW WAVE OF CRISIS
The protests were sparked by the government's decision to put on hold an association agreement with the European Union last November. The rallies, which have drawn hundreds of thousands, were mostly peaceful until Jan.19, when people attacked police in protest against the controversial law, which bans unauthorized tents in public areas, prohibits wearing of masks and helmets during public assembly, and provides jail terms of up to five years for those who block public buildings.
"The new laws became the catalyst of a new wave of the crisis," said Vladimir Fesenko, director of the Penta Center of Applied Political Studies.
Angered by the new law, demonstrators pelted police with sticks, fireworks and petrol bombs, while officers responded with stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas. At least four demonstrators were killed during the unrest and hundreds others, including police officers, were injured.
Last week, protests spread beyond Kiev, with unrest reported in the western, central and northern regions, where demonstrators seized regional government headquarters in 10 of Ukraine's 25 regions.
The violence across Ukraine has triggered wide criticism from abroad. Some foreign diplomats have called for the dissolution of parliament and immediate elections.
Local experts suggested international powers should avoid interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs to prevent an escalation of the conflict.
"International intervention is the most objectionable scenario of all possible, because that would mean that the country would be in a civil war," Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Studies head Mikhail Pogrebinsky said.
Ex-defense minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk believed the comments by foreign diplomats indicated interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine had already happened.
"I am concerned that NATO and the EU are constantly discussing the situation in Ukraine," Kuzmuk said.
Some Ukrainian opposition activists have even called on the United Nations (U.N.) to send a peacekeeping mission to the East European country.
However, Navi Pillay, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, has urged meaningful, sustained and inclusive dialogue by all parties in Ukraine in order to find a solution to the crisis and prevent further bloodshed.
In a move to resolve the situation without external interference, President Viktor Yanukovych made a series of concessions to the opposition.