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Russia calls on Ukraine opposition to renounce ultimatums

Russia on Monday urged Ukraine's opposition to stop issuing "threats and ultimatums" after it appealed for Western aid and urged President Viktor Yanukovych to accept curbs on power.

MOSCOW: Russia on Monday urged Ukraine's opposition to stop issuing "threats and ultimatums" after it appealed for Western aid and urged President Viktor Yanukovych to accept curbs on power.

The statement from Moscow, which has publicly supported Yanukovych in his confrontation with the opposition, came after Ukrainian protest leaders rallied tens of thousands in central Kiev on Sunday.

"We expect the opposition in Ukraine to renounce threats and ultimatums and revitalise a dialogue with the authorities with a view to taking the country out of a deep crisis and into a constitutional sphere," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Russia is rather concerned by a desire of Ukraine's opposition forces to further inflame the situation in the country."

Opposition leaders have asked the West to mediate in talks with Yanukovych to prevent "misunderstandings".

They have also requested "real financial aid" after more than two months of protests that have left much of central Kiev looking like a war zone and hobbled an already frail economy.

Fresh from talks with top foreign leaders at a security conference in Munich over the weekend, the protest leaders also called on supporters to establish self-defence units to protect themselves from pro-government vigilantes.

"In every city, in every district, gather your friends and neighbours together and come out to patrol the streets," boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko said at the Kiev rally.

The opposition also called on supporters to picket city halls across the country.

Moscow said those calls were "in direct contravention of the opposition's statements about adhering to democracy and European values."

"It is perplexing that such provocative steps are being taken immediately after the opposition leaders' talks with representatives of Western countries in Munich over the past days," the statement said.

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