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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Violent clashes erupted in Ukrainian capital during the peaceful protests of Euromaidan

Fierce clashes in Independence Square in Kyiv
(Image: +Yana York )
Violent clashes between the peaceful protesters and riot police and supporters of Yanukovich and his government erupted on Tuesday, as protesters have marched to the governmental district and building of Parliament, where the decisive parliamentary session aimed to discuss and vote for the Constitutional reform and for the candidacy of the new Prime Minister has been held.

Oppositional leaders have been calling for the activists and protesters to gather on Tuesday for the massive peaceful marches to be held in front of the Parliament’s building in order to pressure the MPs. Huge columns of protesters and self-defense of Euromaidan have marched to the Parliament building and other administrative buildings as well, where they have been stopped by the strong lines of riot police and the so called “titushki” (paid thugs used by Yanukovich’s regime to attack and intimidate the protesters).


Confrontations resumed on Grushevsky Street, in
governmental district
(Image: Kyiv Post)
As for the parliamentary session, it failed again, when Parliament and its speaker Volodymyr Rybak refused to register oppositional project of the Constitutional reform. Opposition has blocked the tribune of Parliament demanding the registering of the project. After long talks held between the oppositional leaders and speaker of Parliament the project was registered, but the voting failed as the ruling majority consisted of the members of pro-Yanukovich Party of Regions and Communists have left the hall disrupting the voting process.

Meanwhile clashes have started between the riot police and protesters in Kyiv downtown as riot police has started to fire teargas, rounds of sound and smoke bombs and birdshots against the peaceful protesters trying to disperse them. The clashes turned violent as the self-defense units of Euromaidan arrived on the scene to defend the people, and protesters have been throwing rocks, stones and Molotov cocktails in the direction of the riot police. Fireworks have been also fired in order to target several snipers located on the roofs of the buildings and shooting the people. Police has started to use live ammunition and Molotov cocktails as well, causing dozens of injuries.

Clashes continue in Kyiv downtown
(Image: Reuters)
Clashes are ongoing till now, as heavy military vehicles and additional troops have been deployed to Kyiv downtown and the lines of riot police and “Berkut”, special security forces, have attacked people, destroying the barricades and pushing protesters back to Independence Square.

Nearly 4 p.m. Kyiv subway was stopped, people have been evacuated. Subway remains closed till now and it is unknown when it will be opened again, according to the statement of Mr. Makejenko, interim head of Kyiv City Council. He claimed subway will resume its work only after the confrontations will be stopped. Public transportation was also disrupted in the city causing terrible transportation collapse in the city and preventing people from getting to the downtown. Despite this fact dozens of thousands of people continue to arrive to Independence Square to defend the barricades and to stop the attack of security forces.

Maidan (Independence Square) on fire
(Image: Espresso TV)
It’s worth mentioning also, that state of emergency is de facto imposed in Kyiv at the moment, though it wasn’t declared officially and voted in Parliament, as Constitution and law demand. Kyiv is currently blocked, as the city entrances and highways are blocked, trains are being stopped, airports closed. Ministry of Interior has announced that special transportation regime will be imposed in Kyiv since midnight Wednesday, as even public transportation will be limited in the city. Lights are off in Kyiv downtown, as the threats of another violent attack and attempt to storm and disperse protesters in Maidan is extremely serious at the moment.

At least 20 people are already declared to be dead, as more than 400 people are reported to be injured. There are casualties and injuries from the both sides. Fierce clashes continue, as the groups of thugs are attacking people in the neighboring streets.

Huge lines of riot police in front of the building of Parliament
(Image: Kyiv Post)
Meanwhile Western leaders and diplomats are unable to reach Yanukovich on the phone. German Angela Merkel and EU Jose Manuel Barroso couldn’t reach him, same about Ukrainian politicians. There were reports about the phone conversation held between Yanukovich and US Vice President Joe Biden. No details of the talks have been released till now, but there are expectations that this talk could have a serious impact on the further development of the events, as after the previous talks between Yanukovich and Joe Biden Yanukovich ordered his MPs to support cancelling of the scandalous dictatorial laws on 16 January.

US Ambassador Jeffrey Pyatt has held talks with Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and declared that from this moment US Administration officially holds Yanukovich responsible for the current violence and the escalation of conflict. Personal sanctions are likely to be imposed, stated US Ambassador.

Fierce clashes and burining tires in Kyiv
(Image: Kyiv Post)
In addition to that, EU diplomats and politicians have declared that they will reconsider the issue of imposing personal targeted sanctions against Ukrainian high ranking officials responsible for the violence and using force against Ukrainian citizens. German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier has declared on Tuesday, that the current events in Ukraine means that Ukrainian regime has crossed the red line, and Germany and EU as well must consider the decision of urgent imposing the sanctions.

Victor Yanukovich in his turn remained silent during several hours, releasing no comments regarding the current events in Kyiv. Oppositional leaders have declared earlier in the evening that talks with Yanukovich are planned for Wednesday. Though later Vitaly Klichko has announced form the stage that Yanukovich has just called him and asked for the negotiations. Oppositional leaders claimed that withdrawal of “Berkut” and riot police and immediate stop of violence against protesters are the key demand for the start of negotiations. The clashes continue, but Vitaly Klichko, Oleg Tyagnybok and Arseny Yatsenyuk went to Yanukovich office for the talks. Yanukovich’s press secretary Anna German made an official statement that Yanukovich will address Ukrainians on TV after the ongoing talks with the oppositional leaders.

Fierce clashes in Ukrainian capital
(Image: Reuters)
Meanwhile Ukrainians are gathering in the central squares all over Ukraine re-seizing and re-takings regional offices and administrative buildings given to the authorities before. Offices and headquarters of police in several governorates and cities of Ukraine are also seized. Policemen and “Berkut” in some regions are leaving the offices and refusing to attack.

As for Kyiv, people continue to arrive in the Independence Square despite the terrible danger and fierce clashes and serious threats of the massive attempt to disperse protesters. “Berkut” and riot police have pushed protesters back and taken almost a quarter of the protesters’ territory, but protesters continue to defend the barricades, burning the tires to prevent police to approach.


Situation remains extremely tense and dangerous, as the clashes continue and confrontation is deepening. There are reportedly nearly 7 thousand riot policemen and fighters of “Berkut” presented in Kyiv downtown currently and fighting with Ukrainian citizens. Nearly 20 thousand of protesters continue to defend the barricades and Maidan, as many new people arrive.

UPDATE: Talks between Yanukovich and oppiositional leaders Arseny Yatsenyuk and Vitaly Klichko lasted for over one hour and didn't bring any results, announced Klichko and Yatsenyuk. Yanukovich accused opposition in escalation of conflict and demanded everybody to leave Maidan and Kyiv downtown and "to go home". According to Klichko, Yanukovich completely misunderstand the situation and refuses to hold negtiations until the protests and confrontations will stop. The talks with him are useless, calimed the opposition.

Meanwhile, the death toll rises, as at least 20 people are reported to be dead in Euromaidan and at least 7 police personnel. More than 1000 people are injured. Kyiv Mykhailivsky Monastery, located close to Independence Square, receives injured protesters. There were reports about dead bodies carried inside of the monastery as well. 

Threats of force scenario to totally disperse protesters and cleanse Maidan remain strong and serious. Lights are off in downtown Kyiv, the roads are blocked.