UPDATE 1-Ukraine PM says protesters attempting coup, rules out early vote-reports

Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:26am EST

MOSCOW Jan 23 (Reuters) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Thursday accused protesters of trying to stage a coup d'etat and said it would be unrealistic to hold an early presidential election, Russian news agencies reported.

"A genuine attempt at a coup d'etat is being carried out," Interfax quoted Azarov as saying on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, referring to weeks of protests over the government's decision to scrap plans to sign a landmark trade pact with the European Union.

"All those who support this coup should say clearly, 'Yes, we are for the overthrow of the legitimate authorities in Ukraine', and not hide behind peaceful protesters."

He was quoted as saying the unrest, in which three people on the side of the protesters have been killed, made it "absolutely unrealistic" to held an early presidential vote. The next presidential vote is to be held in spring 2015.

"What do you think, is it possible to hold elections ... when central Kiev is practically occupied by militants? How can one speak of elections when there is unrest?" Interfax quoted him as saying.

Demonstrators took to the streets in November. The unrest swelled into peaceful mass rallies against the four-year rule of President Viktor Yanukovich which turned violent on Sunday when hard-core radicals broke away from the main protest area in Kiev and violently with riot police.

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