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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.