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Riot police wearing helmets and carrying shields block off Hrushevskoho Street in central Kiev. The area became the centre of violent clashes between protesters and police, leaving three people dead and hundreds injured by 22 January 2014. Protests against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych were sparked on 21 November 2014 by the Ukrainian government's decision to suspend preparations for the signing of an association agreement with the European Union that would have increased trade with the EU. Some believe that the U-turn came about as a result of pressure from President Putin of Russia who wants Ukraine to join a customs union with itself, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Following weeks of protest the Ukrainian government waved through a tough anti protest law by a simple show of hands banning things such as unauthorised tents in public areas, the wearing of helmets or masks at protests and criminalising the slandering of government officials.