Anti-government protesters, continue to their clash with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty
KIEV, Ukraine (USA TODAY) -- Protesters threw rocks and firebombs at lines of police on Thursday
after government snipers shot into crowds of protesters, killing perhaps
dozens of people and shattering a truce that was mere hours old.
told CNN that at least 100 people were killed so far today. The Ukraine
Interior ministry says 67 police were captured by protesters in Kiev.
Video footage on Ukrainian television showed protesters leading captured police officers around a protest camp in central Kiev.
STORY: Bay area Ukrainians react to violence in Kiev
television showed scenes of protesters being gunned down and others
lying on the street as others rushed up to pull them to safety, carrying
them on planks of wood.
President Viktor Yanukovych said police
were not armed and "all measures to stop bloodshed and confrontation are
being taken." But an Associated Press cameraman said government snipers
could be seen firing at crowds of protesters.
"We've passed the
point of no return," said a protester identified only as Vitaliy, who
was among demonstrators building barricades around Independence Square
after the clashes and who didn't want his full name used out of fear of
retribution. "Yanukovych can't be trusted even a little bit."
"Anyone who is occupying any position in the government now should never work in any government institution again," he said.
ministers from Europe were in Kiev hoping to restore a truce reached
late Wednesday night between anti-government protesters and Yanukovych.
diplomats have been threatening to impose sanctions on the government,
such as freezing of bank account and travel bans to Europe. But
opposition leaders said the government was massing military troops for a
final push to destroy the protest encampments that have paralyzed Kiev
for three months.
The explosion of violence comes a day after
Yanukovych replaced his army chief and the Ukraine Security Service said
it was preparing to conduct an anti-terrorist operation.
mayor of Kiev's city administration, Volodymyr Makeyenko, announced he
was resigning his post and leaving the ruling party in protest.
Activists rebuilding barricades in Independence Square expressed optimism despite the violence.
think today will be a turning point for our revolution," said Igor
Zhdanov, a protester in Kiev. "They started to surrender, we threw them
Others said the broken truce made it clear Yanukovych is playing for time.
Hrynyshevskiy, a surgeon, was helping the wounded protesters in a
first-aid post in the hall of a post office on Independence Square.
is not the end of it - it's just beginning," said Hrynyshevskiy, who
rushed to Kiev from western Ukraine on Wednesday to help the wounded.
protest camp commander, Oleh Mykhnyuk, said that even after the truce
call, protesters continued to throw firebombs at riot police on the
square. As the sun rose, police pulled back, the protesters followed
them and police began shooting at them, he said.
Protesters running about told USA TODAY the demonstrators had no guns with them.
The foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland met with opposition leaders, then with Yanukovych as the violence erupted.
President Vladimir Putin was sending envoy Vladimir Lukin to Kiev as a
mediator in the negotiations with the opposition at the request of
Yanukovych, Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Voice of Russia.
telephone conversation between President Putin and President Yanukovych
was carried out on the initiative of the Ukrainian side, during which
the president of Ukraine suggested that the head of the Russian state
should send a Russian representative to Kiev to participate in the
negotiation process with the opposition as a mediator," Peskov said.
the demonstrators worry that Russia is taking too strong a hand in
Ukraine affairs and is pushing Yanukovych to crack down on their
movement. They fear Putin will even send troops to invade, as he did
during an uprising in Georgia in 2008.
a pro-Moscow, autonomous republic within the Ukraine, may secede from
the country if tensions escalate further, said the head of the Crimean
parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, according to Russian media reports.
violence in Kiev began Tuesday when protesters marched on police lines
and set fires outside parliament, accusing Yanukovych of ignoring the
will of his people to enact constitutional reforms that would limit the
president's power. They also demand that he sign an economic pact with
the European Union that was years in the making before Yanukovuch
accepted a deal from Putin instead.
Wednesday, the Ukrainian Health Ministry said 28 people have died and
287 have been hospitalized during the two days of violence. Protesters
say today that number is now 128.
Wednesday President Obama condemned the violence during his trip to
Mexico. "There will be consequences" for Ukraine if it continues, he
said, alluding to possible economic sanctions against Ukraine's rulers.
He acknowledged that Putin sees the situation differently.
approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War
chessboard in which we're in competition with Russia," he said.
Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under George W.
Bush, criticized the White House approach. Bolton said Obama is drawing
an equivalency between the protesters and the regime, asking both to
stop the violence when it is the regime that is to blame.
Foreign Ministry described the violence as an attempted coup and even
used the phrase "brown revolution," an allusion to the Nazi rise to
power in Germany in 1933. The ministry said Russia would use "all our
influence to restore peace and calm."
foreign minister Sergey Lavrov laid some of the blame for the
escalation in violence on Western countries "that interfered in events
by courting the protesters."
said that means the Russians see that Europe and Obama will not take a
strong hand in Kiev and that allows Russia to dictate events.
has never not intervened in Ukraine, that's the whole issue," said Ben
Tonra, head of the School of Politics and International Relations at
University College Dublin in Ireland. "President Putin has actively
intervened in Ukrainian politics since the separation of Ukraine for the
last couple of years."
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