Clashes near Ukraine’s parliament

On 18 February clashes broke out near Ukraine’s parliament. At the time of writing of this article, already seven people were killed, according to some sources and more than hundred people are injured. Injuries are also reported among police officers.

Reasons for the current clashes
Two days ago the government and protesters made an agreement. General prosecutor Viktor Pshonka announced that criminal charges against activists would be dropped as part of an amnesty deal. In return the protesters would vacate occupied government buildings and allow traffic to access parts of the city leading to state buildings.

Today parliament was expected to meet to consider demands from the opposition to revert to the 2004 constitution and a new government. However, they failed. Due to this a march started which led to renewed clashes after demonstrators removed a police vehicle that blocked their way to parliament, which they tried to take over. This morning protesters managed to enter and take over the office of the Party of Regions. Further, clashes broke out in at least three streets leading to parliament. 

Current situation
The police had taken up sniper positions on the roof of a building near the parliament, from where they fired down onto crowds of protesters. In this same street protesters set a building on fire this morning. Next to guns the police uses clubs, tear gas and flash grenades. The demonstrators use heavy weight as well, including Molotov cocktails. According to the Institute of Mass Information, at least eight journalist were attacked by the police while covering the violence

Berkut, the special units of the Ukrainian police, were using water-cannons to prevent more protesters from going to the centre of activities. Because this was not working properly, Berkut switched this afternoon to flash grenades in order to overcome the barricades. At this moment protesters are behind these barricade preparing to repulse the attack.

Political science professor at the University of Kiev, Valentin Yakushik, argued that “today is the new stage of the events in Ukraine. We are coming to a stage which we may call being at the brink of tragedy.” The situation is very dangerous because “the official opposition cannot control the people protesting in the streets.”

By Laura Ritter

Sources: BBC, Aljazeera, Unian I, Unian II, Unian III, Unian IV, Kyivpost

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