Editor’s Note: Police launched a raid on Independence Square at 8 p.m. on Feb. 18 .The Feb. 18-19 clashes killed at least 26 persons, including 10 police officers, and injured more than 1,000 people. Fighting resumed on Feb. 20 with at least 42 people killed.
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Radio Svoboda video of police snipers shooting today on protesters
Feb. 20, 4:01 p.m. Here is the link
Today’s death toll not yet official; at moment, Kyiv Post body count is 42 protesters dead
Feb. 20, 3:26 p.m. — Kyiv Post journalists have seen an additional eight bodies on the streets of Khreshchatyk Street early afternoon on Feb. 20. By mid-afternoon, medics had taken the bodies away. Kyiv Post journalists at the scene said the bodies came from Institutska Street and were not part of an earlier body count of casualties at Kazatsky Hotel, Ukraine Hotel or the central post office, all on Independence Square.
Kyiv Post journalists either saw for themselves or had the following body counts confirmed to them by medical personnel: 15 at Kozatsky Hotel, 12 at Ukraine Hotel, 7 at the central post office, and 8 on Khreshchatyk Street.
Dr. Olha Bohomolets, one of the attending physicians to 12 fatal gunshot victims at Ukraine Hotel, said that the victims were shot with high-precision rifles and powerful ammunition that broke their bones.
She said an official death count will not be available until Feb. 20. — Christopher J. Miller
Russia’s Lavrov again slams West over Ukraine
Feb. 20, 3:23 p.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on a working visit to Baghdad, Iraq, said: “While Western European countries demand people of Ukraine to be given freedom of choice, they add that the choice should be in favor of the European Union. Our Western partners in Europe and the U.S. blame only country’s authorities and cannot properly qualify the extremists’ actions. They are threatening [the government] with sanctions, moreover Americans have already imposed them, thereby encouraging the opposition to dismiss any compromises.”
Captured police officers say some of them have not eaten in 24 hours
Feb. 20, 1:34 p.m. — At least 60 police officers and their hired help are being held in the state energy company near Kyiv City Hall. Some said they were captured while sleeping this morning at Ukrainian House, while others were captured by protesters during the violent clashes by October Palace. Many of the men were only 18 or 19 year old, were not trained and were armed only with rubber truncheons. Others were trained police officers. Many had not eaten in 24 hours. Some had minor injuries but were beating treated by medics in the building. Their fate is unknown and depends, according to the captors, on the outcome of negotiations between anti-government EuroMaidan demonstrators and the government. —Daryna Shevchenko
Metro will soon reopen as city governor changes allegiance, says Svoboda deputy
Feb. 20, 1:21 p.m. – Svoboda member Andriy Illienko says on his Facebook page: “I have just talked to (city administrator Volodymyr) Makeenko. He has announced that he has quit the Party of Regions and is giving an order to open the metro.”
Twelve Party of Regions members of parliaments announce support of Ukrainian people; call on police to remember that they have an oath to people, not those who give them orders
Feb. 20, 1:17 p.m. — According to Interfax-Ukraine news, at least a dozen members of parliament from the pro-presidential Party of Regions have announced their support for “the people of Ukraine” and called on police officers to stop attacking protesters. — Katya Gorchinskaya
Death count rises to 37 persons with two more bodies in Ukraine Hotel
Feb. 20, 1:14 p.m. — At least two more bodies of protesters were taken to Ukraine Hotel on Kyiv’s Independence Square, for a total of 12 dead at this location. The additional deaths bring to at least 37 the number of protesters killed today, most from gunshot wounds by police near clashes this morning near October Palace. The Health Ministry is reporting 35 confirmed deaths. Conflicting reports remain about which side started the violence this morning; each accuses the other. A relative calm settled over the main square at 1:19 p.m on Feb. 20. — Katya Gorchinskaya, Anastasia Vlasova and Daryna Shevchenko.
Viewers report that Akhmetov’s Ukraina TV channel offering more objective coverage
Feb. 20, 12:46 p.m. — At least two viewers of billionaire Rinat Akhmetov’s Ukraina TV channel says the news coverage has become more objective, fair and accurate today. In the past, Akhmetov — a long time political and financial backer of President Viktor Yanukovych — has been criticized for owning news outlets that spin out pro-government propaganda, rather than news. — Brian Bonner
Unconfirmed reports: Gas stations, bridges could be closed soon in Kyiv
Feb. 20, 12:44 p.m. — A protest leader said from the main stage that gasoline stations in Kyiv could be closed soon, as police seek to restrict movements of citizens, ostensibly to bring control and end the violence that has claimed at least 61 lives this week in Kyiv alone. Also, at least one taxi driver was worried about whether police would shut down the seven bridges over the Kyiv Dnipro River. — Iryna Yeroshko
A video of some of the Feb. 20 casualties after fighting that killed at least 35 protesters.
Riot police officers mass near main police station across from InterContinental Hotel in Kyiv
Feb. 20, 12:01 p.m. — At least six buses, each loaded with some 30 riot-control police officers, were massing near InterContinent Hotel close to St. Michael’s Cathedral. A short time later, an eyewitness report that snipers were shooting near St. Michael’s Square. Meanwhile, at least 60 police officers captured by protesters continue to be held hostage by demonstrators at the state energy building near the opposition-occupied Kyiv City Hall. Snipers were also seen near the “Stella” monument on Independence Square in Kyiv. — Daryna Shevchenko and Mark Rachkevych
Lutsenko asks for parliament to convene, promises rioters won’t block their work
Feb. 20, 11:30 a.m. — Yuriy Lutsenko, the nation’s former top cop who is now a leading political opposition leader, took the stage on Independence Square to call on members of parliament to convene in emergency session. He said he would ensure that protesters don’t block their work. Meanwhile, politicians in Ukraine were meeting frantically to plot their next moves. A worried-looking Vitali Klitschko was seen going into the Premier Palace Hotel, but didn’t want to talk. Also, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland were scheduled today to meet with President Viktor Yanukovych. — Daryna Shevchenko and Brian Bonner
Death toll mounting; at least 35 bodies counted by Kyiv Post and other journalists
Feb. 20, 10:59 a.m. — A Kyiv Post journalist counted the bodies of 10 slain protesters in Ukraine Hotel on Kyiv’s Independence Square, while another Kyiv Post journalist counted the bodies of three slain protesters on Khreshchatyk Street and was heading to Kozatsky Hotel on the northern side of the main square, where at least 15 more bodies were taken. Medical personnel at Kozatsky Hotel said another seven bodies would be delivered soon.
Meanwhile, a third Kyiv Post journalist inside the central post office has been told by doctors that seven fatal gunshot victims were taken there.
Most of the victims appeared to have been victims of gunshot wounds from police and shot near October Palace this morning as protesters advanced on police.
Armour-piercing ammunition was used in at least some of the cases, with bullet holes piercing the bullet-proof vests that some of the militant demonstrators were wearing.
Meanwhile, thousands of people remained massed on Independence Square, fearing police attack.
Nataliya Shcherbaniuk, the wife of killed activist Oleksandr Shcherbaniuk of Chernivtski was crying as she said by telephone: “I don’t know what to do, have no money to go to Kyiv.”– Christopher J. Miller, Anastasia Vlasova, Olga Rudenko and Anastasia Forina.
Doctor: At least seven protesters killed today
Feb. 20, 10:50 a.m. – At least seven protesters were killed today by police, according to Oleg Slaby, a volunteer of the medical unit based in Kyiv’s central post office. The bodies of two of them are still in the building. All the dead were shot near October Palace as protesters advanced on police. One of the dead is identified as Bohdan Baida from Drogobych in western Ukraine. — Olga Rudenko and Anastasia Vlasova
At least 50 captured police officers marched on Khreshchatyk Street, taken to state energy company building near Kyiv City Hall
Feb. 20, 10:40 a.m. — Protesters have marched at least 50 captured police officers to a government building near the opposition-occupied Kyiv City Hall and are holding them there. The protest leaders formed a safe corridor that the officers were marched through. Protesters fear an attack from all directions by police and government hired thugs known as “titushky” in slang, including an advance from Arsenalna metro station through Mariinsky Park, a favored station for pro-government forces. — Christopher J. Miller
Some 15 injured protesters getting care at opposition occupied Kyiv City Hall
Feb. 20, 10:37 a.m. — The protesters’ commandant at Kyiv City Hall confirms that 15 wounded protesters are being treated inside; one suffered gunshot wounds from police while the others were injured by grenades. — Christopher J. Miller.
Captured police taken to central post office; injured taken to Ukraine Hotel for emergency first aid
Feb. 20, 10:31 a.m. Injured are being taken to Ukraine Hotel, located on Independence Square, as some 20 captured police officers are being taken to the occupation-occupied central post office, also on the square. This morning, protesters advanced on police, forcing them off the Maidan and then stopped their advance. Now they are busily working to fill sandbags with sand and reinforce their barricades. They are holding their positions as they wait for a combined police assault with hired government thugs and perhaps military. Protester leaders continue to yell instructions from the main stage, directing defenders and injured people about where to go. — Olga Rudenko, Nathaniel Espino and Christopher J. Miller
Huge crowd amasses on Independence Square; medical centers set up in center, including at Kyiv City Hall; protesters stop advance up hill; numerous injured
Feb. 20, 10: 13 a.m. — A protest leader says that an armed formation of “titushki,” government-hired thugs, have amassed on Bessarabski Square on the west side of Khreshchatyk Street and are advancing to protesters. The leader called on protesters to defend their positions. At least 10,000 people are on the square now, perhaps 20,000 demonstrators, with more on their way. Many injured are in Ukraina Hotel. The protest leaders have stopped their advance on police and say they will stay put and defend their new perimeters which extends again close to European Square on the east side and October Palace on the south side. Protest leaders are warning demonstrators not to advance further because armed riot-police officers are waiting for them. Injuries are likely to be in the dozens as protest leaders continue asking for urgent donations of blood and medical help. — Christopher J. Miller and Brian Bonner
EuroMaidanPR reports police surrender; unconfirmed reports of military advancing
Feb. 20, 10:06 a.m. — As protest leaders yelled instructions to followers from a microphone on the main stage of Kyiv’s Independence Square, EuroMaidanPR was reporting that police officers are surrendering to protesters. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports came that police or military reinforcements were on their way from the back side of October Palace. Stage leaders sought blood, medics, sand, supplies and reinforcements for protesters— Nathaniel Espino
Protesters capture police officers during offensive; one protester dead
Feb. 20, 9:54 a.m. — Medics have pronounced one protester dead in the medical tent behind the main stage on Maidan, or Independence Squre, and another protester was brought in looking lifeless. Also, five police officers were brought in for treatment with bloodied faces and heads. October Palace is on fires protesters push police back up along Institutuska Street and set a police bus on fire. — Christopher J. Miller
Protesters go on offensive, pushing police back up hill to October Palace, seizing buildings; gunshots all over
Feb. 21, 9:21 a.m. — Gunshots are incessant and heard everywhere on Kyiv’s Independence Square as hundreds of protesters systematically march on police, dislodging them from their positions on the main square and pushing them up the hill into retreat beyond October Palace. A police bus is set on fire. Protesters are protecting themselves from gunshots with shields. Other protesters have taken over vacant stores and shops on the square. At this moment, police are in retreat to the systematic march. Protesters are armed with Molotov cocktails. — Christopher J. Miller
Orobets tweets about police sniper on Shovkovychna Street; protesters take barricades
Feb. 20, 9:05 a.m., — Opposition member of parliament Olesya Orobets tweets that there is a police sniper on a roof of a building on Shovkovychna Street, scene of the deadly Feb. 18 clashes. Meanwhile, a protester leader takes the stage on Kyiv’s Independence Square to instruct fighters not to shoot or throw anything into the thick black smoke east towards European Square because other fighters have manned barricades on the other side of the smoke to do battle with police. — Olga Rudenko and Nathaniel Espino
Truce over as explosions, Molotov cocktails greet Feb. 20 morning
Feb. 20, 8:30 a.m. — Could it be the shortest truce in history? Less than 12 hours after President Viktor Yanukovych and political opposition leaders called for a truce to find time to negotiate a peaceful solution to the nation’s political crisis, explosions hit Independence Square on the morning of Feb. 20, where police and protesters re-engaged in their violent conflict.
Police threw Molotov cocktails into the opposition-occupied Music Conservatory to start it on fire.
Thick black smoke obscures the view from Independence Square east to European Square.
One of the protest leaders on stage is giving directions, seeking doctors, ordering fireworks to be thrown, claiming that a police sniper has been caught, summoning troops to form battle lines. A crowd of 1,000 to 2,000 protesters chanted “bring him on stage!” to the claim that a police sniper had been caught.
The conflict resumed at sunrise, witnesses said.
It appears the politicians forgot to tell the police and front-line fighters there was a truce, or the protesters and police simply are following different orders.— Nathaniel Espino