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KIEV, February 21, 1:22 /ITAR-TASS/. ass) - Following a sharp deterioration of clashes between rightwing extremists and the police in the early hours of Thursday, residents of Kiev began to buy up water, foodstuffs, and prime necessities in shops and department stores around the city.
In the downtown areas adjoining Independence Square (the worldwide notorious Maidan) and Kreshchatik Avenue, all the cafes, restaurants and bars were closed and their windows were covered with protective shutters.
Some of the windows were sealed up with posters and newspapers and sign plates reading ‘Closed due to technicalities’ could be seen on the doors.
An Itar-Tass correspondent walking around the city center and looking where to buy a bottle of water had a real problems finding at least one kiosk that would be open.
Away from the epicenter of the clashes, panicky buying was in full swing, as people were buying up all things durable ‘for a rainy day’. “We don’t know if fresh supplies will be delivered any time soon,” a woman carrying away numerous loaves of ‘Ukrainski’ bread and packs of spaghetti said.
Long queues were seen at the gasoline stations. Workers at one of them said that the gas stations inside the city might close down before the end of the day and the ones located in the nearby towns and villages were inaccessible because of the block-posts on the roads put up by the radicals.
Unending riots in downtown Kiev compelled a number of banks to suspend operations of their Kiev offices. Raiffeisen-Aval, Unicredit Bank, and Sberbank Ukraine were closed before noon and executives at VTB-Ukraina said the bank’s offices on Kreshchatik Avenue and Bessarabskaya Street were closed for security considerations until a special notice.
Spokespeople for Privatbank said its offices in the zone of conflict had been evacuated and the workers were removing cash from the cash dispensing machines.
European Investment Bank temporarily suspended its operations on the territory of Ukraine. Bank President Werner Hoyer said it would be unreasonable to expose the workers of its Ukrainian offices to risks.
Few people could be seen on the streets in the city center. The staffs of all the government offices, including the Presidential Administration, the Cabinet of Ministers, and the Ukrainian Information Service were told to leave the offices and go home.