News / Europe

25 Dead as Ukraine Clashes Escalate

  • Anti-government protesters sing the national anthem as they gather at a barricade, central Kyiv, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police, Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • A woman carries sandwiches as anti-government protesters gather in Independence Square, central Kyiv, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester stands behind a barricade during clashes with riot police in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters gather in Independence Square in central Kyiv, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • A man who was injured during clashes between anti-government protesters, Interior Ministry members and riot police receives medical treatment inside Mikhailovsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral (St. Michael's golden-domed cathedral), Kyiv, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Riot police officers spray anti-government protesters with water in Independence Square in central Kyiv, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters throw stones towards Interior Ministry officers during a rally, near Parliament, in Kyiv, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters throw stones at the office of the pro-presidential Party of the Regions, Kyiv, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters escort an unidentified man after attacking an office of the pro-presidential Party of the Regions, Kyiv, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • A woman carries stones during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members, Kyiv, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters burn the Party of the Regions flags, calendars and booklets during a rally, Kyiv, Feb. 18, 2014.
Protesters, Police Clash in Kyiv
RFE/RL
Thousands of anti-government protesters remained in the main square in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital Wednesday, after a day of fierce clashes with riot police left at least 25 people dead in the worst violence in three months of political demonstrations.

Police and opposition representatives said many of those killed were hit by gunshots. Dozens of the injured are in serious condition.  Nine of the dead were police officers. 

Meanwhile, European Union officials have called an emergency meeting on Ukraine at which members will discuss whether to impose sanctions on those responsible for the violence.

In Paris, where she met with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the imminent threat of sanctions against the Ukrainian government was meant to show Kiev that the EU is serious about the need for a return to political dialogue.

"When (EU) foreign ministers meet tomorrow in Brussels they must talk about which specific sanctions should be imposed to show we are serious that the political process must resume...,'' she said during a joint news conference.

"But sanctions alone are not enough,'' said Merkel, adding that it was necessary to talk to both the opposition and Viktor Yanukovich's government to help bring peace to Ukraine.   

Earlier Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton admitted she is "deeply worried" about the situation, adding that the EU is ready to assist Ukraine in a return to the parliamentary process.  She said the EU will consider "all possible options" as responses to the unrest, including "restrictive measures" against those responsible for the violence.

Yanukovych meets opposition

President Viktor Yanukovych urged leaders of the opposition to distance themselves from "radicals," as riot police launched a fresh assault on the main anti-government protest camp in Kyiv.

Yanukovych made the comments in a statement after failed overnight talks with opposition leaders. He blamed opposition leaders for the latest upsurge of violence in the capital, but Yanukovych also said it was "not too late to end the conflict."
 
Overnight, television footage showed opposition activists huddled on Independence Square, or Maidan, encircled by fires and smoke from burning tents as fighting with riot police moved closer.

Several floors of a trade union building, used as an antigovernment headquarters, burned in Kyiv.
 
Water cannons were being used to put out the fires on the square and in the building.

Watch video of clashes on Independence Square:



Opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk met with Yanukovych early on February 19, but Klitschko said afterwards that the talks had ended with no solution to the crisis.

Klitschko said Yanukovych refused to pull back riot police massed against thousands of protesters in Independence Square.

"I am very unhappy because it was no discussion and the president doesn't want to listen to the opposition. They don't want to listen, it's just one way and the opposition and all protesters have to stop protests, have to stop demonstration he said. But right now it's very important to make a break and not fight any more," Klitschko said.

Klitschko had urged protesters to remain on Independence Square, calling it an "island of freedom."

WATCH: Live RFE/RL video stream from Ukraine:


Live stream from Kyiv's Independence Square by RadioSvoboda.org:



Call for restraint

Earlier, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called on Yanukovych to pull back riot police and exercise maximum restraint.

That message was echoed earlier by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

"We are appalled by the violence that was already taking place in downtown Kyiv and reports of armed riot police massing on the edge of Maidan. We continue to condemn violence and excessive use of force by either side. Force will not resolve the crisis," Carney said.

"To restore peace and stability, we urge President Yanukovych to de-escalate immediately the situation and end the confrontation at Maidan. We also urge him to restart a dialogue with opposition leaders today to develop a consensus way forward for Ukraine," he continued.

The United States has issued a travel warning for its citizens in Ukraine, warning them to "maintain a low profile" while in the capital and be prepared to remain indoors at night, if necessary to avoid the clashes.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement saying he is "shocked and gravely concerned" about the escalation of violence and said use of violence by either side is unacceptable.

Ukrainian champion pole vaulter and head of Ukraine's Olympic Committee, Sergei Bubka, made a public appeal for peace Wednesday, calling on both sides to observe the "Olympic truce," a voluntary halt to violence during the international games that take place every two years.
 
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Yanukovych to "address the root causes of the crisis."

In Moscow, authorities blamed the violence on Western governments, accusing them of encouraging "radical forces" among the protesters.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin deflected questions on Wednesday about when Russia would release the second instalment of a $15-billion bailout package for Ukraine, saying ending the violent upheaval was the main priority. 


More violence

Meanwhile, reports said protesters have stormed government buildings and police centers in several cities in western Ukraine including Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Ternopol.

ITAR-TASS reported that dozens of protesters have torched piles of tires to block a car border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in the Lviv region.

Earlier on February 18 in Kyiv, police moved against the demonstrators with water cannons and rubber bullets after the Interior Ministry and the Ukrainian Security Service issued an ultimatum lasting until 6:00 pm local time, after which they would take "all legal measures to restore order."

Independence Square has been held by protesters since shortly after Yanukovych in November backed away from a trade agreement with the European Union and sought closer ties with Russia.

The Interior Ministry said that 184 police officers were injured, 35 of them seriously. Kyiv city authorities said that more than 200 protesters had been injured.

In an unusual move, the authorities closed Kyiv's underground transport system.

Klitschko said that the move was made to stop protesters from getting to the city center.

City officials also announced that traffic into the capital would be restricted from midnight, and called upon businesses not to open on February 19.

The recent violence erupted after protesters demanding constitutional reforms to curb Yanukovych's powers broke through a police cordon outside parliament.

The rally turned violent after demonstrators threw stones and fireworks at policemen, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas.

Some information contributed by VOA News, AFP and Reuters.

Check out our Ukraine Storify feed:

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: xnomer from: kz
February 19, 2014 1:18 PM
Even in this rioters suporting news i can see no picture of violence of police to people. In the contrary i see some bastards beating policemen. I wonder why US athorites demand Yanukovich to withdrow the riot police from the streets? Why should the do it. There RIOT, you know that? That is why the police there! Two years ago there has been some riots in London and Paris, if you dont know what is it. And would have you imagined the streets without police?
In Response

by: HONG LY from: VIETNAM
February 20, 2014 9:47 PM
The US and EU have purposely ignored the truth that the rioters are extremists and are shooting government officers, policemen and reporters, robbing state properties including guns. That is because they are of the same evil sides. They are trying to blacken Ukraine's president.

by: archlingua from: Guatemala City, Guatemala
February 18, 2014 11:59 PM
Only the purposely blind, arraigned against humanity’s freedoms, can deny that tonight, February 18 2014, Putin is fiddling his evil machinations while Kiev burns.

by: JKF2 from: Great North (Canada)
February 18, 2014 11:27 PM
The gvmt of Ukraine is killing its own people, it is now a criminal gvmt against the people; it is now shown a new level of high brutality. If the sit is not defused, we are looking at a major civil war in Europe. All the Ukrainian people want is a chance to have and live in a normal democratic nation, they will not get that under the Russian Dictatorial association. It is a very bad situation, given that the EU encouraged the situation, just to now abandon the people of Ukraine. Yanukovych and his chronies need to resign, and a temporary unity gvmt needs to take charge, until new elections can be set up ASAP; this unity gvmt needs to be in place before the situation deteriorates any further. Most Ukrainians have very bad recollections of the Russian (Soviet era) rule, something they no longer want to be associated with. Strong sanctions need to be put in place, against the principals in the current criminal Ukrainian gvmt..
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
February 19, 2014 3:18 AM
It is high time for Mr. Yanukovych to stop those protestors by force or Ukraine will become a real hell. Those criminals must be put on trial for trying to destroy the whole nation. Russia is always by your side, Ukraine. The EU and the US have done nothing to help Ukraine's economy so far. They only instigate riots, killings, disorder to overthrow you, Mr. Yanukovych. So act bravely and decisively now!

by: musawi melake from: -
February 18, 2014 7:51 PM
Russia can't let this country slip away from it's grip, similar to what the US regarded about Central-American countries during the 80s, China can't let things go out of hands in the neighbourhood(Taiwan and Tibet), India can not let the island of Sri Lanka divided(even if it meant to carryout the eradication of hundreds of thousands of people. So, Russia and ukrain should sort it out, even if it meant to kill half of the population, which is necessary to safegourd the sovereignty of the country. It is an internal matter of a sovereign state and the US or EU should stay away!

by: Steve M from: Louisiana
February 18, 2014 8:13 AM
With all the money Russia is "loaning" to Ukraine how long before Russia decides to foreclose on it's new puppet state to recover it's investment?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs