EUROMAIDAN. 19-26 January 2014. Hrushevskoho Street riots. (Photo, Live Stream)
On 19 January, Sunday mass protest, the ninth in a row, took place gathering up to 200,000 in central Kiev to protest the new anti-protest laws, dubbed the "Dictatorship laws". The rally was attended by opposition leaders, but was also the first public appearance of Tetiana Chornovol since her alleged attack by the authorities.
Many protesters defied the face concealment ban by donning party masks, while others wore hard hats and gas masks. AutoMaidan leader Dmytro Bulatov demanded a single oppositional candidate be named, and the crowd also chanted against leaders to comply with this action. Batkivshchyna leaders Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov declared that a new, alternative parliament would be created.
Euromaidan activists, including former Ukrainian Navy chief, Rear Admiral Ihor Tenyukh, appealed to the military for its "solemn allegiance to the Ukrainian people" rather than the "criminal regime", and for members of the military and police to not carry out criminal orders, namely in the use of force against civilians; they assured those who would be fired for refusing orders of violence would be reinstated once a new government for Ukraine is installed.
Clashes erupted as thousands descended upon parliament via Hrusehvskoho Street, and were met by police cordons, and a blockade of military cars, mini-vans and buses. The protests escalated into riots and clashes with police erupted. The riots on Hrushevskoho Street have been ongoing from 19–21 January and have involved both Euromaidan activists and opposition leadership.
Between 21–22 January, 3 were killed during the Hrushevskoho Street riots. On 21 January, the first death occurred after a 22-year old man fell from atop the 13 metre high colonnade in front of Dynamo Stadium while confronted by Berkut police, and suffered fractures to his spine's cervical vertebrae. Reports of the incident debate on whether the man jumped from the building to flee the beating, fell, or if he was pushed by police.
The second death occurred at 6 a.m. on 22 January, where police shot and killed a protester climbing the barricades in the conflict zone. It was reported he received 4 gunshot wounds, including to the head, and died immediately on the scene before being taken to hospital. The third, a Belarusian man, was also shot dead by police. Clashes spread to Lutheran Street near the Presidential Administration, with protesters lobbing molotov cocktails.
Danger arose when it appeared that activists who sought treatment at hospitals were 'disappearing'. Prominent Euromaidan activists Ihor Lutsenko and Yuriy Verbytsky were abducted by five unknown men on 21 January at 4 a.m. from Oleksandrivska Hospital in Kiev. Lutsenko was found beaten in the woods the next day, but Verbytsky was murdered; his body found on 22 January.
In response to the escalating violence, police were permitted by the government to increase measures in stopping the riots and protests. Police were now able to block roads to restrict access to the city, and allowed the use of water cannons against rioters regardless of air temperature, which was -10 C at the time of the announcement. Despite this, some 50,000 came to Euromaidan to show support. Tanks were reported to be traveling via rail from Chernihiv to Kiev, but government sources claimed they were headed instead to Odessa. Police also illegally published the names and addresses of all known Automaidan activists.
On 22 January the president presented a number of medals to various figures in the police forces and military for their service in the conflict. Controversially, President Yanukovych attempted to present Ukrainian Orthodox Church Patriarch Filaret with an award, which was refused.
Opposition leaders presented the president with a 24-hour window to give in to demands. Vitali Klitschko warned the government that protesters would "go on the attack" if their demands were not met by the next day, while Yatseniuk stated, "Tomorrow we go forward together. If a bullet in the forehead, then bullet in the forehead." Following this sentiment, the UNA-UNSO called on all gun-owning Ukrainians to arm themselves to defend the Maidan.
On 22 January suddenly at least three tanks were deployed from Chernihiv. Officially the tanks were being transferred to the Odessa Oblast and not be going to Kiev. On 23 January it was announced that due to the complicated situation in the country all tanks were returned to their place of permanent base.
Two dozen men in masks armed with batons stormed the TV Kyiv station at 7:00 p.m. Later, several thousand protestors from the anti-Euromaidan group "Kievans for a Clean City" surrounded the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Crowd leader Ivan Protsenko blamed American financing and interference for the events in Kiev, and picketers then egged the embassy. Later, a number of attendees engaged in an altercation with promoters after they were not paid for their time and participation in the picket.
In the early morning of 23 January, police raided and destroyed a Red Cross Euromaidan medical center. Carrying on from the previous night, it was reported by activist groups that television blackouts were taking place across the country to channels which carried Euromaidan coverage, and internet and social media blocks were also under way. Riot police from Vinnytsia refused their orders to be deployed to Kiev after reports from activists indicated that police and military were being mobilized nation-wide.
Automaidan activists were attacked and beaten in Mariinsky Park, and detained by police; 9-10 vehicles had their windows smashed or tired blown. Ruslana called the attack "a carefully planned ambush."
At interview to BBC (Davos, Switzerland), the Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov assured that Berkut was not able to use fire arms. Yet, there are several photos of Berkut servicemen who use molotov cocktail and rocks, the use of which are not authorized. Police also brought a water cannon, while outside temperatures were below freezing.
Euromaidan activists documented police brutality on multiple occasions from Berkut and servicemen of the Internal Troops of Ukraine, wherein officers assaulted activists and even random people and would humiliate them using excessive foul language, and force them to undress naked.
In a video leaked to YouTube, Interior Ministry troops tortured and humiliated a Euromaidan activist in Kiev's Pechersk region; where he was stripped naked in the cold after being beaten, and photographed by officers. The video was in close proximity, leaked by an officer in an apparent sign of self-evident barbarism and hatred within police ranks.
BBC News interviewed another protester who was photographing the Hrushevskoho Street riots, and then beaten and stabbed by police.
On 23 January reports surfaced that riot police were engaging in the use of improvised grenades, taping nails and other shrapnel to conventional stun grenades.
On January 23, 2014 Berkut grabbed a 22 year old volunteer of Euromaidan medical service (native of Donetsk), confiscated all her identification documents, took her out of the city and left her out in a woodline near Vyshhorod.
On 23 January it was reported that, according to the wife of an active Berkut officer, troops were being ordered to evacuate their families from the city. FC Dynamo Kyiv updated their Facebook page with a red-and-black tryzub as a sign of support for the revolution. FC Shakhtar Donetsk fans then also threw their support behind the Euromaidan movement.
On 23 January 2014 soldiers of the Internal Troops of Ukraine (VV) were awarded with medals bearing the title "National honor to military law enforcement servicemen", a medal that is in fact not in the official list of state awards.Awards were given out to military units of the Eastern Territorial Command (STK) #3057 (Mariupol) and #3037 (Donetsk).
On 24 January President Yanukovych stated (at a meeting with religious leaders) that the dubbed "Dictatorship laws" would be amended, saying that "we will prepare and compromise solutions together with the opposition. We will vote for amending these laws and so will settle all issues".
At the same meeting he also stated that "we will continue a dialogue with the opposition leaders" and "I will be doing all I can to stop this conflict and stop violence. "If we can do this on a good note, let's leave it on a good note, and if we can't, we'll use all legitimate methods".
Also on 24 January Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko guaranteed "that the police will not take forceful action to clear Maidan Nezalezhnosti".
On 25 January 2014 at 00:40 (EET) the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVS) accused the security of Euromaidan in assault on three police officers. In its press-release, the MVS claims that the so-called Maidan security attacked three officers who were on duty.
One of them was immediately struck with a knife. The detained servicemen were held in the city hall. Now the wounded one has been freed and hospitalized, while the fate of the other two is unknown. MVS claimed that a policemen who was walking home in civilian clothing was killed by a shot in his head. The same day Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko claimed "According to information received by law enforces, firearms being piled up at House of Trade Unions and Kyiv City State Administration" and "The opposition leaders don't want to disassociate themselves from radical forces, but are no longer capable of controlling them, exposing Ukrainians to danger". The opposition denied that its activists had captured policemen and called the Interior Ministry's statement provocative. It also denied piling up firearms and did accuse the authorities of setting up "a criminal group purposefully formed by the authorities to conduct destructive actions on the Maidan". Later on 25 January Zakharchenko stated that protesters had freed 2 captive policemen, "Captive policemen have been tortured and now are hospitalized".
On January 25, 2014 Lieutenant General of Militsiya Vitaliy Yarema announced that the Ministry of Internal Affairs recently received more ammunition from the Russian Federation which is not certified and may be used against protesters.
Vitaliy Zakharchenko announced that in Kiev is the highest degree of extremism.
A third meeting since the start of the Hrushevskoho Street riots between President Yanukovych and the three main opposition leaders Yatseniuk, Klitschko and Tiahnybok took place on 25 January as requested by the All-Ukraine Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.
During the meeting President Yanukovych offered the position of Prime Minister of Ukraine to Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the position of Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine in charge of humanitarian affairs to Vitali Klitschko. The government also offered an amnesty for protesters who agree to release administration buildings they have seized. During the meeting President Yanukovych also promised to consider changes to the Ukrainian constitution (which currently gives the President of Ukraine extensive powers) either through a referendum or through legislation by the forming of a working group containing all parties in Ukraine's parliament to discuss returning to the constitution as it was between 2004 and 2010, under which parliament had significantly more powers than currently.
According to Justice Minister Olena Lukash President Yanukovych would dismiss the second Azarov Government if Yatsenyuk accepted the Prime Minister post. Nevertheless Yatsenyuk told a large crowd on Maidan Nezalezhnosti that while the opposition is generally ready to accept leadership of the government, President Yanukovych still had to meet several key demands of the opposition (including early presidential elections) and that talks will continue. At a later news conference, Yatsenyuk said "we are not throwing out the proposal, but we are not accepting it, either. We are conducting serious consultations among three opposition forces". About an hour after the opposition leaders spoke the Hrushevskoho Street riots continued.
Live Stream/ Espreso TV
Live stream from Kiev Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
RadioSvoboda, Espreso TV,
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