News / Europe

Moves to Dismantle 'Euromaidan' Protest Tents in Kyiv Spark Clashes

Protesters hold a petrol bomb during clashes with pro-government forces at Independence Square in Kyiv. Tensions flared on Thursday on Kyiv's Independence Square when protesters still camped there clashed with city workers who tried to clear away their tents.
Protesters hold a petrol bomb during clashes with pro-government forces at Independence Square in Kyiv. Tensions flared on Thursday on Kyiv's Independence Square when protesters still camped there clashed with city workers who tried to clear away their tents.

Tensions flared on Thursday on Kyiv's Independence Square, the scene of street protests that toppled a Moscow-backed president in February, when protesters still camped there clashed with city workers who tried to clear away their tents.

The protesters set fire to heaps of tyres, sending clouds of black smoke billowing across the city centre square, known as the Maidan, recalling the demonstrations earlier this year which chased Viktor Yanukovich from power.

Armed riot police moved onto the square as protesters - some of them in combat fatigues and masks and waving clubs - threw bottles and paving bricks at municipal workers who had been dispatched to dismantle the tents and barricades.

The police and workers eventually withdrew, leaving the situation unresolved.

Many protesters, including self-defense militias, have taken down their tents and returned to their homes since the election of Petro Poroshenko as president at the end of May.

But many barricades have remained in place, along with makeshift shrines to the 100 or so protesters killed by police sniper fire, and a few hundred people are still camped out on the Maidan.

"It's the right thing to do [take down the tents]. I was here from the start of the Maidan and I believe it's right now to take down what there is here. There are practically no normal people left here," said Yury Kovalchuk, a 43-year-old businessman.

Ukraine's uprising began last November when Yanukovich walked away from a political and trade deal with the European Union and sought to swing policy back towards Russia. At its height, thousands of people from across Ukraine were camped out on the square and on an adjoining thoroughfare.

Kyiv's new authorities have made clear they would like the capital city back to normal, with traffic moving freely, ahead of an expected parliamentary election at the end of October.

"It's like seeing everything that went on in winter coming back: tires are burning, the police are here and so are people with clubs," said Vitaly Lyakh, a 37-year-old Kyiv resident.

"It's not right - especially since the most decent people have gone off to fight in the war [against separatists in the east]. Civilised countries don't behave like this," he said.

One protester wearing a Ukrainian cossack uniform, Mykola Bondar, declared his resistance to attempts to take down the encampment. A group of young masked protesters stood nearby atop a truck, banging on the roof of the vehicle with clubs. "They tried to kill us today. They set fire to us," he said.

  • Women choose Dutch tomatoes at a supermarket in downtown Moscow, Aug. 7, 2014. The Russian government has banned all imports of meat, fish, milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Premier Dmitry Medvedev at the Cabinet meeting announces sanctions, on behalf of the Russian government, banning all imports of meat, fish, milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables from the United States, European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway in Moscow on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Fruit farmers marched in Warsaw to encourage Poles to eat more apples to offset the expected negative effects of a ban that Russia imposed last week on Polish fruit. In this photo, a woman is picking apples to buy at 1.99 zlotys (euro 0.47) per kilo at a supermarket in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 6, 2014.
  • An activist smokes a cigarette after clashes with a special forces police battalion in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • A woman shops for sweets from an assortment of imported food stuffs at a supermarket in downtown Moscow, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Imported meat products are displayed at a supermarket in Novosibirsk, about 2,800 kilometers east of Moscow, Russia, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Activists clash with a special forces police battalion, in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Worries about Russian troops amassing near the Ukrainian border are pushing stocks slightly lower. Trader Steven Kaplan, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, New York, NY, Aug. 6, 2014.

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