Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych: Open Warfare Broke out on the Streets of Kyiv today and more than 1,000 people Injured

The 25 deaths on Feb. 18-19 came in renewed violent clashes that pit thousands of police and protesters against each other at several locations near Ukraine's parliament building in Kyiv.

When added to the five protesters killed in January, the death toll in the anti-government EuroMaidan protests that began on Nov. 21 has now reached at least 30 persons -- an unprecedented amount of bloodshed in protests during Ukraine's nearly 23-year history as an independent nation.

Police said today that at least 100 police officers were injured alone, including dozens from gunshot wounds.

The Institute of Mass Information also said that more than 25 journalists covering the violence were attacked by police.

The Interior Ministry, physicians and opposition politicians said that by early Feb. 19 the death toll from the Feb. 18 clashes had reached 25 persons, including at least 16 civilians and nine police officers.

Some of the latest reported deaths included that of a protester who died in a hospital from wounds suffered on Feb. 18, according to opposition member of parliament Iryna Gerashchenko who is part of Vitali Klitschko's Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party. Also, the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that nine police officers had been killed, including two road police officers early on Feb. 19 in Kyiv's Sviatoshyn district.

Dr. Oleh Musiy, who coordinates medical care for the anti-government EuroMaidan protesters, said that the death toll reached 20 people early on Feb. 19 before the Interior Ministry added the two new police casualties. Another three deaths were reported overnight, bringing the total to at least 25 peop.e

Dr. Olga Bogomolets, a physician, also said that the number of injured is more than 1,000 people and more likely "into the thousands."

Five of the victims were identified as: Serhiy Didych, a member of a local city council in western Ukraine's Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast; Volodymyr Tishchuk of Zaporyzhia in southeastern Ukraine; Serhiy Shapoval of Kyiv; Zurab Khurtsia, 53; and Antonina Dvoryanets, a middle-aged woman.

The death toll was likely to rise overnight, as police were advancing on thousands of protesters on Independence Square at 8 p.m. with gunshots, a water cannon and an armored personnel carrier. Tents housing protesters were burning on the main square, a fire fueled by protesters with tires as a defense against police attacks.

The nighttime police raide followed an official Interior Ministry warning for all women and children to leave Independence Square by 8 p.m. Additionally, Hromadske TV reported earlier in the evening that that three armored vehicles were moved to Kyiv streets at nightfall, including at least one that was stopped by demonstrators.

Chaos, gunshots and blood

Hours earlier, at 1:30 p.m., police officers had once again taken up sniper positions by on the roof of a five-story, commercial-residential building on 17/5 Institutska Street. Officers fired down onto crowds of protesters, after being repelled earlier in the day by demonstrators. Other officers fired indiscriminately into charging crowds of protesters.

The Institutska Street building, which protesters set on fire this morning and at one time controlled, has been the scene of today's most violent clashes so far.

Besides firing guns, police used clubs, tear gas and flash grenades in a bid to repel thousands of demonstrators who this morning marched on the Verkhovna Rada, as parliament failed to meet today to consider opposition demands for a new constitution and new government.

Protesters struck back, armed with sticks, stones, metal bars, fireworks and Molotov cocktails and other explosives.

Police started firing guns before noon, using rubber bullets and metal bullets, in a bid to repel advancing protesters. Dozens of police and protesters were injured by 1 p.m. with the clashes continuing and the number of victims growing higher.

At least two men were shot in the head with rubber bullets, while several front-line protesters were also fired upon by police. Yet other protesters were seen bleeding profusely from the head and carried away from the scene. Protesters also attacked police officers.

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