RIOTS IN DOWNTOWN KYIV – ongoing updates.
Large groups of Maidan activists walked in a procession to the Verkhovna Rada [Parliament], demanding reinstatement of the 2004 version of the Ukrainian Constitution. The area was surrounded by law enforcement. The situation escalated fast.
Right now, clashes continue between protesters and law enforcement, aided by titushkas [hired thugs]. The police used traumatic weapons and stun grenades. As of 15-30, Kyiv time, several protesters are dead, dozens injured.
Events of this morning (between 9 am and 11 am):
Continued here: Events of the Morning 11:06-12:01
Maidan activists are planning to walk in a large procession to the Verkhovna Rada [Parliament], which today [18.02.2014] is expected to make decisions that will be critical for the country.
Earlier, “mobilization” for the peaceful advance was scheduled for 8:30.
Meanwhile, files of people are walking to the Mariyinsky park to support the Party of Regions. Around 8 am, people were spotted walking from the Park Slavy [Glory Park], chanting ‘Odesa!’
In downtown Kyiv, various music is playing – some nostalgic, from the Soviet times, some patriotic.
Maidan activists periodically chant “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!”
They also declare their demands, among which is returning to the 2004 version of the Constitution, and punishing the people guilty of beatings and tortures of activists.
Interfax Ukraine reports that the protesters broke through the police cordon in the vicinity of the Verkhovna Rada. At the intersection of Hrushevskiy Street and Kriposniy Val, several protesters climbed onto vehicles that were used to block the road, and forced officers of interior troops out of them. More on that.
Took the barricade next to the Officer House! People force the interior troops back and continue advancing, one the trucks was moved aside.
Right now, the Verkhovna Rada is picketed by at least 50,000 protesters!
Police at Shovkovycha Street started using stun grenades. They’re armed with Fort-500T pump-action shotguns.
In Lypska Street, they started gas attacks.
Svoboda Kyiv :
Trucks that blocked the protesters’ way, have been removed from Hrusvheskiy Street.
Law enforcers and activists of the “peaceful advance,” clashing wall to wall by the Verkhovna Rada.
Law enforcers to protesters: Your actions are in violation of the law, bordering on crime, you will be held responsible.
People at Shovkovychna Street shouting ‘Fascists!’ Sight snipers with binoculars on the roof.
I can hear grenades. People are breaking up the pavement for throwing stones.
Berkut goes into tortoise formation with their shields, people drive them away with stones. Stun grenades fly further and further, into crowds. Loud explosions.
Tires set ablaze at Hrushevskiy Street.
Right now, in the streets: The VR [Parliament] in a tight circle (I counted four cordons) of interior troops and Berkut [riot police]. It looks like all the living, dead and undead ‘tigers’, ‘berkuts’, ‘gepards’ [names of elite riot police units] and other evil creatures have been herded here. Starting from 8 am, buses at Parkova Alley unload living, but sleepy and not entirely sober cargo. They form into files with district names and shuffle to their nearby corral in the Mariyinsky Park, with a police escort.
Maidan activists and self-defense formed a perimeter around the quarter and all nearby streets. You can feel the tension from far away.
Meanwhile, in the parliament: the tribune is being blocked by the opposition, Rybak [speaker] is lying low and bluntly refusing to register for voting the opposition’s resolution about return to the constitutional order, clearly afraid that it would get the necessary votes to pass. Bohoslovska [MP with the Party of Regions] returned to her seat in the Party of Regions sector.
Roll call voting for restoring the 2004 Constitution is a matter of principle. The results of this vote will determine the entire direction of the events in the country.
Riot police were the first to open fire and throw grenades. When MP Olena Kondratyuk tried to cross the cordon, they shot at her legs.
Shovkovycha Street. Pavement taken apart. Throwing stones at the interior troops. Getting grenades in response.
A man raised his hand with a 200-hryvnya bill and started waving it at the titushkas [hired thugs]. Everyone followed his lead right away.
[There have been numerous reports that thugs and provocateurs hired by the government are paid 200 hryvnya per day.]
Women at Shovkovychna Street keep passing rocks to throw at the front lines, despite frequent explosions.
How to get home from the Rada?
This is the most important question that the Party of Regions and Communist Party MPs are asking each other, behind the Verkhovna Rada walls. There is no way out for you! Maidan surrounded all your Anti-Maidans, together with the interior troops, Berkut forces, and Mercedes’ you drive. Maybe you might get out in the evening, sneak around in the dark, creep through the park and down to the Dnieper. Think about it, boys – is what I tell them – and make up your mind! Your boss is in his lair, guarded by a squadron of Berkut, but you’d have to walk through lines of furious people! Did you think that a two-week truce with a pretend search for solutions would calm the people down? No, it didn’t, because they’re sick of your government! You think that your Yanukovych is a strong leader? Then let the strong leader announce early elections, run for President again, and win them, if he’s that strong! Give him that bit of friendly advice. Don’t test the patience of the street…
Shooting at Shekovychna Street! A guy next to me got shot, fell to the ground. A sniper on the roof.
The smoke from Hrushevskiy Street can be seen from the Pechersk.
At the Anti-Maidan, the titushkas [hired thugs] now carry shields that say ‘POLICE’.
Pressed by the Svoboda party and the self-defense, frantic negotiations are happening in Rybak’s [speaker’s] office. “Regionals” are scurrying around and whispering between themselves. The rats are scared of the Ukrainian people. MPs blocking the Rada and stand on the barricades.
Svyatash, a Party of Regionals MP, tried to get to the Rada. People caught him. Someone sprayed him in the face with gas. He started apologizing and making excuses. People shouted “speak Ukrainian!” He started speaking Ukrainian.
Protesters surrounded and block police and titushkas in the Mariyinsky park. Policemen talk into megaphones – “Citizens, calm down.”
A file of law enforcers from the Rada went towards Shovkovychan Street. That’s probably the hottest spot right now.
Police carry a crate of grenades to Hrushevskiy Street.
Leviy Bereg [Left Bank], LB.ua:
Corner of Shovkovychna and Instytutska streets. Titushkas, some of them with bats. Circulating among Berkut officers in small groups.
Injuries pile up in the clashes at the intersection of Shovkovychna and Instytutska streets, reports Ukrayinska Pravda reporter.
Two women were injured by rubber bullets: one in the heart region, one in the face.
Protesters find rubber case shots on the ground.
As was reported before, most of the protesters are regular people, without special equipment, bearing yellow and blue ribbons.
There are problems with mobile communication in the conflict area.
Clashes started in the Mariyinsky park. Stun grenades are used. According to the Radio Svoboda live-streamer, the conflict started between EuroMaidan protesters and supporters of the Party of Regions. Molotov cocktails thrown from the direction of the law enforcement, the journalist notes. Frequent explosions around.
A Berkut line forming between interior troops and titushkas. They have firearms and grenades.