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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ukraine: Violent confrontation is ongoing for the second day as EU is ready to impose sanctions

Kyiv Independence Square on fire
(Image: RTR)
Fierce clashes and violent confrontations are ongoing in Ukrainian capital Kyiv and all over Ukraine, as protesters refuse to give up and Yanukovich’s regime continues to kill Ukrainian citizens.

The clashes erupted on Tuesday, 18 February, between the peaceful protesters heading to the building of Parliament, and security forces firing teargas, throwing Molotoc cocktails, shooting birdshots and sound and smoke bombs at the protesters causing chaos and violent clashes. Kyiv downtown and Maidan (Independence Square) have turned into a real battlefield, as dozens of thousands of activists and protesters have been defending Maidan and its barricades despite using of live ammunition and bombs against the protesters. Military vehicles have been deployed to the scene.

Clashes and fire in the heart of Independence Square in Kyiv
(Image: DPA)
Tires are burning in Kyiv, shots and explosions are being heard almost constantly, with short moments of relative ceasefire. Ministry of health reports officially about nearly 30 people dead and more than 500 injured, as doctors and activists of Maidan claim there are more killed people and the numbers of injured are increased to more than 1000. Numbers of wounded are likely to rise as the clashes continue, and there are serious threats about the massive attack of “Berkut” and security forces against Maidan to be launched in the night. Wednesday’s early morning’s attack have occurred at 4 a.m. as it was expected, thus, activists are preparing for the next round of battle.

More and more people arrive in Kyiv from different regions of Ukraine in order to join the lines of defenders of Maidan. Ukrainians are bringing wood, warm clothes and food for Euromaidan activists. New tires and gasoline are also being brought to held protesters.

Morning on Independence Square
(Image: DPA)
Meanwhile Ukrainians continue to seize administrative buildings and offices of police and SBU (Secret Police) all over Ukraine, Western Ukrainian governorates are almost totally under control of revolutionaries, with “Berkut” and police turning on the side of people. Offices of the ruling Party of Regions are also being stormed in different Ukrainian cities including Eastern Ukrainian ones, which are traditionally pro-Yanukovich regions.

In addition to that situation is escalated by the appearance and active operation of the so called “titushki” (paid thugs used by Yanukovich regime to provoke attack and intimidate protesters) and criminals in the streets of Kyiv and other cities as well. Several activists and journalists have been attacked and seriously injured during the night; there are also casualties as a result of these attacks. Criminals and “titushki” are backed by the police, “Berkut” and SBU, as there are many photo and video evidences of these facts. Serious provocations are expected to happen in Kyiv tonight in order to justify using of the brutal force.

Security forces using live ammunition
(Image: AFP)
State of emergency is de facto imposed in Ukraine since midnight of Wednesday, 19 February, as Kyiv subway is closed for the second day, entrances to Kyiv and roads are blocked, transportation is limited. SBU has also declared on Wednesday, that it launches anti-terrorist campaign against the activists of  Euromaidan who are considered being terrorists and extremists by the current regime. Launching of anti-terrorist operation in Ukraine means also, that military forces could be legally used in the uprising. Ukrainian head of the Armed Forces Mr.Lebedev has confirmed on Wednesday, that special unit of military was deployed to Kyiv. There were also numerous reports about military vehicles and technique approaching Kyiv.

Yanukovich has addressed Ukrainians in a TV speech in the morning accusing opposition of escalating the situation and proclaiming them totally responsible for the violence and deaths of protesters. Yanukovich said that Maidan should be left, and people should go home.
Opposition though declared that they are ready for the next round of the talks with Yanukovich despite the fact that Tuesday’s talks failed. The main demand for the beginning of the talks is ceasefire and withdrawal of “Berkut” and riot police from the streets of Kyiv and stop of violence against Ukrainian protesters.
Burning image of Yanukovich in the street
(Image: Reuters)

Yanukovich’s representative has declared later that Yanukovich is also ready for the negotiations with the oppositional leaders and gave an order to his team, represented by Olena Lukash and Andriy Portnov, to prepare the talks with the oppositional leaders in the nearest future. Arseny yatsenyuk, Vitaly Klichko and Oleg Tyagnybok have stated that they will agree on holding these talks as there is no way out of the crisis and the bloodshed must be stooped, while the dicision should be taken in Parliament.

Meanwhile Western countries and Europe are seriously concerned over the recent events in Ukraine and Yanukovich’s using of brutal force. European Parliament’s members have had an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday discussing the issue of Ukraine and resolving of its crisis. European officials have declared on Wednesday, that targeted sanctions against Ukrainian high officials and representatives of Yanukovich regime will be imposed starting since Thursday, with the visa restrictions and arrest of financial assets and property abroad. German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her turn has called on EU to demonstrate serious position of Europe and to support Ukrainian citizens with the real actions imposing sanctions against Yanukovich and his government. Thus, the sanctions will be imposed in the nearest future, according to the reports.
Ukrainian protesters in the morning, after the night's attacks
(Image: RTR)

Members of Party of Regions are resigning from their positions, as another parliamentary session is expected to be held on Thursday to discuss the crisis. Thursday’s session seems to be the last chance of the authorities to change the situation and to resolve the crisis.

The situation though remains extremely tense, as at least 50 thousand of people are reported to be presented in Maidan at the moment and more and more people are joining the protests. Force scenario is still possible, and people expect an attack, but if it will happen, it could have really terrible impact as the numbers of people there are very high.

Meanwhile, Yanukovich has changed the heads of Ukrainian Armed Forces and National Security and Defense Council making rotation, as Volodymyr Zamana, head of the Armed Forces General Headquarters, was dismissed and appointed as a Head of the National Security and Defense Council, and General Ilyin was appointed the Head of the Armed Forces Headquarters.