Gorbachev urges Putin, Obama to save Ukraine from civil war

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MOSCOW- The former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has urged the leaders of Russia and America to step in to save Ukraine from sliding into civil war, even as protests spread from Kiev to provinces.

In an open letter to the Russian and U.S. Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, Mr. Gorbachev, who is 82, said the crisis in Ukraine “threatens not only Ukraine itself and its neighbours but also Europe and the whole world.”

Uneasy calm settled in Kiev on Friday, where at least three people were killed in clashes with police in the past few days, but unrest is spreading to other parts of the country as talks between President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders have made little progress.

Protesters stormed the officers of local government in Lviv, Rivne, and several other Western provinces. In Kiev, protesters erected more barricades and occupied a ministry building in preparation for new confrontation with police.

“We must not allow Ukrainians to fight Ukrainians,” Mr. Gorbachev, who is half-Russian, half-Ukrainian, wrote in his appeal. “However, the situation appears to have taken such a turn that without the intercession of the authoritative leaders of our two countries it may end in catastrophe.”

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