Editor’s Note: EuroMaidan participants and political opposition leaders held a Jan. 19 rally to protest new laws that restrict freedom of speech and peaceful protest. The rally turned violent between police and protesters with more than 100 people injured. The standoff is continuing.
EuroMaidan started Nov. 21 on Independence Square in opposition to Yanukovych’s foreign policy U-turn away from the European Union in favor of Russia and has since broadened into calls for the president’s resignations and a snap presidential election ahead of the scheduled 2015 vote.
The events can be watched here:
Espresso TV on Independence Square: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE-j_IwxkNM#t=7547
Hromadske TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62ZeBP5U0iE
Web camera on Maidan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT86BH2LVUU
Espresso TV’s live video from scene of clashes.
Hromadske TV’s live coverage.
Truce holding for night?
11:59 a.m., Jan. 21 — It appears that an uneasy truce is holding tonight as a tense and violent standoff enters its fourth day on Jan. 22 near Ukraine’s parliament in Kyiv between police and protesters — Brian Bonner
Website helps to get a ride to the protest
Jan. 21, 7:40 p.m. EuroMaidan activists launched a special website to make protesters’ transportation easier. The website “I Go to Maidan” offers those on their way to EuroMaidan help in transportation. By filling a form one either offer a ride or ask for one. You have to identify whether you want to give a ride or want to get a ride, from Kyiv or to Kyiv, the name of the city, the day of the week, the date and the phone number (not required though). Then the website compiles a message with your request and posts it to the social networks of your choice. — Daryna Shevchenko
Football fans to join riot
Jan. 21, 4:20 p.m. Official Vkontakte page of the ultras football fans supporting Dynamo Kyiv team published a call to the fans to go out to the streets tonight to protect Kyiv from titushkas, the thugs hired to bring chaos to the protest. The page has over 43,000 subscribers. — Olga Rudenko
Klitschko in peace talks with Kluyev, president attends different meeting
Jan. 21, 2:50 p.m. UDAR opposition party leader Vitali Klitschko is currently attending a work group meeting at the presidential headquarters to resolve the political crisis, President Viktor Yanukovych’s press service announced. The meeting is being chaired by National Security Council chief Andriy Kluyev.
Meanwhile, according to the statement, Yanukovych is in a scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov regarding the nation’s social and economic development for this year. – Mark Rachkevych
Opposition awaits response from the government
12:55 p.m. Batkivshyna faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk said opposition passed the letter with the listed demands to Andriy Kliuyev, the head of the National Security and Defense Council. They expect the response to come in the next few hours. The key demands are the peaceful end of the standoff, the dismissal of the government and the cancellation of the draconian laws, Yatseniuk said. — Mark Rachkevych
Klitschko shows up
12:40 p.m. Leader of Udar party Vitaly Klitschko arrived to the scene of the clashes to talk to the protesters. — Christopher J. Miller
Armistice at Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv
12:22 p.m. No fights or explosions are seen at Hrushevskoho Street, the main scene of continuous clashes between protesters and riot police in Kyiv. A few dozen protesters and police officers met on neutral territory for a brief talk. However, this is not an expected peace negotiation, as no police commanders are seen at the spot, rather just a friendly talk between the sides, Kyiv Post editor Christopher Miller reports. The most frequently asked question is “Why are you beating our boys?” and the most frequently heard answer is “Violence is on your side,” though the mood is largely light. There are about 500 police officers in total (though there is a shift change in process) and about a 1,000 protesters, a hundred of which appear ready to fight when needed. At their feet are some two dozen Molotov cocktails ready to be thrown. — Christopher J. Miller
EuroMaidan to lobby attendees of annual World Economic Forum in Davos
10:52 a.m., Jan. 21 — Ukrainians in Switzerland are set to lobby guests of the World Economic Forcum in Davos, Switzerland, and try to convince the annual gathering of the world’s rich and influential about the need for nations to slap economic and visa sanctions against top Ukrainian politicians, who they allege are corrupt. The action is set to take place from 5:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 21 (Arrival Zone 1). The Ukrainians will greet the guests of the Davos forum with banners and the information on how to the freeze the assets owned by the Ukrainian politicians who are associates of the current illegal regime. The activists will voice the people’s request to help Ukraine.
The arriving guests will be handed leaflets describing the general situation in Ukraine.
“We want to draw a direct link between the money flowing from the corrupt activity and the human rights violations committed against the Ukrainians. Our goal is first, to block the assets owned by Viktor Yanukovych, Oleksandr Yanukovych and the Klyuyev brothers,” according to the Democratic Alliance political party. — Brian Bonner
Golos Ukrainy, official government newspaper, publishes new laws
10:28 a.m., Jan. 21 — Despite pleas by the political opposition for the government to rescind new laws that sharply curtail free speech and free assembly rights, President Viktor Yanukovych allowed their publication in the government’s Golos Ukrainy newspaper, according to EuroMaidanPR. This means the laws will go into effect, allowing them to be enforced. The law calls for criminal prosecution and imprisonment of up to 15 years for participating in unsanctioned demonstrations or insulting police in ways that they find threatening. The laws have been condemned in the West and by the political opposition as undemocratic, but the pro-persidential Party of Regions defends them as in line with European democratic standards. — Brian Bonner
One Ukrainian man’s 15 minutes of fame from the front lines, in English, on why he wants change
10:18 a.m., Jan. 21 — Stars are born in revolutionary times, and this one may be one of the memorable characters of the EuroMaidan movement. He’s a Ukrainian man with a heartfelt plea, and occasional salty language, asking for world support of what he calls the peaceful struggle to change the nation’s government. — Brian Bonner
One man’s three minute, 10 second plea.
Concern high as EuroMaidan activist Igor Lutsenko disappears
9:48 a.m., Jan. 21 — Civil society activist Igor Lutsenko, one of the leaders of the EuroMaidan movement, has not been seen since last night after reportedly telling his lawyer that some men are following him. We will have more details on this developing story soon. — Brian Bonner
Protesters receive police warning
9:15 a.m., Jan. 21 — Only six burnt, hollowed-out police vehicles divide hundreds of riot police in kevlar gear from a far smaller group of protesters on Khrushevskoho Street after another night of projectile exchanges between them. Much of the sidewalk is charred as demonstrators in masks bang on steel poles and sheet metal, using clubs and other objects, to annoy law enforcment. Meanwhile, a police loudspeaker blares a warning to the remaining protesters that they are breaking the law that carries a 15-year prison sentence. Several people stand on the roofs of the buses holding Ukrainian and red-and-black flags — symbolizing blood and earth — while facing the columns of police, apparently unafraid of snipers that have been reportedly spotted on nearby rooftops. — Mark Rachkevych
119 police officers injured; 80 hospitalized
9:05 a.m., Jan. 21 The Interior Ministry reports that 119 police officers have sought medical attention, with 80 of them hospitalized with serious injuries received during clashes with protesters over the course of two days, according to a statement published on its website.
The officer received head injuries, fractures, burns, stab wounds and poisoning from an unknown substance, according to the statment. — Christopher J. Miller
Interior Ministry holding 13 protesters suspected of violating ‘riot’ laws
9 a.m., Jan. 21 In Kyiv, 32 people said to be “active participants in the riots” on Hrushevskoho Street have been detained by police, according to an official Interior Ministry statement. Thirteen are suspected of violating the Criminal Code st.294 “Riots,” a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison under new laws signed by President Viktor Yanukovych on Friday which went into effect today.
Police released this video as evidence of criminal behavior on the part of protesters. It includes footage of protesters ostensibly making Molotov cocktails that was filmed by online news outfit Hromadske.TV. — Christopher J. Miller
Police warn advancing protesters
8 a.m a.m., Jan. 21 — Protesters advance to within 30 meters of the police cordon on Hrushevskogo Street, prompting officers to warn through a megaphone that they’re in violation of the law and will be held accountable. Today is the first day that a new law goes into effect curbing demonstrations if, as expected, text of the legislation is published in today’s government newspaper Holos Ukrainy. — Christopher J. Miller
Church bells in background as priests enter dead zone between police, protesters
7:15 a.m., Jan. 21 — Three Orthodox priests came to Hrushevskoho and stood in the no-man’s-land between police and protesters. For a moment, dead calm prevailed as the demonstrators stopped their incessant drumming. Then the drumming resumed and church bells, presumably from St. Michael’s Cathedral, could be heard briefly in the background to warn of danger. Then the banging resumed — Christopher J. Miller and Brian Bonner
Police becoming more aggressive but demonstrators repel advance
7 a.m., Jan. 21 — Protester numbers on Hrushevskoho Street have dwindled considerably, to about 1,500 people, with fewer fighters on the front lines. Police are increasing number of incursions. So far, they have been repelled by Molotov cocktails, but they continue to close in. — Jakub Parusinski
Several ‘titushki’ caught by EuroMaidan security, brought in for televised questioning,
6:10 a.m., Jan. 21 — Extraordinary events are being reported overnight, including the capture of about a dozen young men identified as “titushki,” the slang term for thugs believed to be hired by the government to stir up trouble through vandalism and assaults.
The men were caught during the night by roving groups of AutoMaidan activists joined by political opposition leaders, including Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yateniuk and Oleh Tiahynbok, as well as representatives of all three political opposition factions in parliament.
Hromodske TV aired live footage of the young men and teenagers after they were taken to the Trades Union Building, an Independence Square building occupied by the opposition, for interrogation and a “people’s trial.” EuroMaidan security guards and journalists asked questions about who they are, what the were doing and who paid them. They were also given the opportunity to ask for forgiveness and confess their “crimes.”
EuroMaidanPR described most of the suspects as between 16 and 18 yrs old. Under questioning, according to the movement’s public relations service, some responded that they had not received any payment yet but were due Hr 300-350 per day to create anarchy. They admitted be hired to wreak havoc with various blunt objects, including a kitchen meat hammer, that they were provided with. Their instruction was to smash windows and cars, according to EuroMaidanPR, while others did not admit to any wrongdoing. — Brian Bonner
Tiahnybok makes overnight appearance on Independence Square, warns of police raid
6:01 a.m., Jan. 21 — Oleh Tiahnybok, head of the opposition Svoboda Party, came onto the Euromaidan stage on Independence Square to encourage the demonstrators overnight. According to EuroMaidanPR, Tiahnybok stated that his party members have information from trusted sources that there is a high probability of the storming of EuroMaidan by police soon. He went on to remind the people on EuroMaidan that this is not the first time that President Viktor Yanukovych has talked of talked about negotiations while at the same time sending in police to attempt the clearing EuroMaidan by force, namely the night of Dec. 10-11, according to the EuroMaidan public relations service. — Brian Bonner
Reports: Interior minister allows police to use firearms
6 a.m, Jan. 21 — EuroMaidanPR, citing Ukrainska Pravda, is reporting that Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko has signed an executive order authorizing the use of physical force, special devices and firearms (registered with Justice Ministry under №19/24796). In response to the executive order allowing the use of firearms, the head of the Ukrainian gun owners association, Georgiy Uchaykin, warned law enforcement agents that using firearms as that could lead to a point of no return, according to EuroMaidanPR. Uchaykin also stated that, according to the group’s estimates, there are 400,000 legal arms owned by citizens in Kyiv. He went on to say that in Ukraine their organization estimates two million legal firearms owned. This is just those that are legally owned, it is hard to estimate the total number of weapons owned in total by citizens including illegally owned firearms, Uchaykin said, according to EuroMaidanPR, the movement’s public relations service. — Brian Bonner
A group of ‘titushki’ found on Podil
4:20 a.m., Jan. 21 AutoMaidan, or traveling protesters, found a group of several dozen tishushki on Kontraktova Square in Podil. There was a brief scuffle between activists and the thugs in Silpo supermarket, and then the thugs retreated through the back door. —Katya Gorchinskaya
Klitschko catches two thugs
4:09 a.m., Jan. 21 Vitali Klitschko caught two titushkis, or hired thugs, and questioned them, according to Oksana Zinovieva, his spokeswoman. She told Hromadske.tv that they said they were brought it from Kherson region and instructed to smash cars, and that they are coordinated from one center. —Katya Gorchinskaya
Reports of Berkut and ‘titushki’ attacks
3:56 a.m., Jan. 21 Disturbing reports are coming in via social networks of a brief Berkut attack on protesters on Hrushevsky Street, combined with many smaller attacks on activists by hundreds of “titushki” – hired armed thugs who roam the streets. The bells of St. Michael’s cathedral started to ring again, according to several reports on Twitter, as on the night of Dec. 10, when Berkut attempted to push protesters off EuroMaidan by force.
According to Interfax-Ukraine news agency, around 3:20 Berkut advanced briefly towards the protesters, but was pushed back behind the barricades of six burned-out vehicles that block the bottom of Hrushevsky street. A reporter from Espresso.tv who is doing a live feed from the scene, said that Berkut is now tossing Molotov cocktails at the protesters frequently.
In the meantime, fights are reported around the perimeter of EuroMaidan, where “titushki” are blocking approaches for Kyivans who are rushing in to help. A live feed of AutoMaidan patrol that seeks out titushki can be found here. —Katya Gorchinskaya