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Kiev, Ukraine • Hundreds of police started storming a protest camp in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday, clashing with protesters as they tried to dismantle barricades.

Protesters shouted "Shame!" "We will stand!" and sang the Ukrainian national anthem.

The storming of the camp at Independence Square came despite a visit by two top Western diplomats to try to defuse a weeks-long stand-off between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych.

The police tried to dismantle barricades surrounding the camp, but then moved back after resistance from protesters.

The police took up positions on the perimeters of the camp, then began clashing with demonstrators and trying again to dismantle the barricades.

The protests began in late November when Yanukovych backed away from a pact that would deepen the former Soviet republic's economic ties with the 28-nation EU — a pact that surveys showed was supported by nearly half the country's people. The agreement would make Ukraine more Western-oriented and would be a significant loss of face for Russia, which has either controlled or heavily influenced Ukraine for centuries.

The confrontation at the protest camp unfolded as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland were in the city to try to talk to the government and the opposition and work out a solution.

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