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February 19, 2014

"I Am a Ukranian:" Digest of the Battle of Kiev

Yesterday, thugs did what thugs do. The protesters did something unwise in retaliation-- they set a fire.

With hundreds of riot police officers advancing from all sides after a day of deadly mayhem here in the Ukrainian capital, antigovernment protesters mounted a final desperate and seemingly doomed act of defiance late on Tuesday evening, establishing a protective ring of fire around what remained of their all-but-conquered encampment on Independence Square.

Feeding the blazing defenses with blankets, tires, wood, sheets of plastic foam and anything else that might burn, the protesters hoped to prolong, for a while longer at least, a tumultuous protest movement against President Viktor F. Yanukovych, a leader who was democratically elected in 2010 but is widely reviled here as corrupt and authoritarian.

“It is called the tactic of scorched earth,” said a protester who identified himself as Andriy.

The police reported earlier in the day that at least nine people, including two police officers, had been killed, but then raised this to 14, making it by far the worst day of violence in more than two months of protests and, for most Ukrainians, the bloodiest in living memory. The final death toll appears certain to be higher.

Doctors and nurses treating protesters in a temporary medical center in the Trade Unions building on Independence Square reported gunshot wounds and evidence that the police had doctored percussion grenades in order to inflict more serious injury. By early Wednesday, the union building had caught fire and the blaze raged out of control, with flames spreading to adjacent buildings.

Yesterday's death toll is now put at 26.

An opposition leader said the situation was precarious, but despite the burning fires and police lines, a strange calm pervaded central Kiev -- even as security officials rebranded the protesters as terrorists and announced a nationwide security operation to restore order.

Meanwhile, European and U.S. leaders threatened quick sanctions against the Ukrainian government over what French President Francois Hollande called "unspeakable, unacceptable, intolerable acts."

While insisting that "peaceful protesters (should) remain peaceful," U.S. President Barack Obama made a point in saying that the Ukrainian government carried an especially big burden for what's happened so far and what's to come.

The EU is "weighing" sanctions, which seem useless, given the whole point of Russia's influence/control over Ukraine is to bring them further into the Russian fold anyway.

Following failed talks overnight, Kiev's Independence Square was quieter Wednesday even as the opposition moved to retake the square after thousands of police armed with stun grenades and water cannons rushed at protesters in a camp Tuesday.

That standoff led to stories of individual brutality including that of Vyacheslav Veremiy, a journalist with daily Ukrainian newspaper Vesti. He was returning home from the newsroom around 2 a.m. Wednesday when his taxi nearing a police station was attacked by a group of armed thugs.

The driver and a fellow passenger were beaten. Veremiy was pulled out of the car and shot in the chest. He died shortly after.

Veremiy is one of the victims of roving bands of paid government "helpers" directed to cause disorder, who are currently roaming the streets with bats and guns, according to witnesses of the violence.

As I said, thugs do what thugs do. The Ukranian government is now calling protesters "extremists" and "terrorists," just as Morsi did in Egypt, and just as Erdogan did in Turkey.

The security authorities in Ukraine offered the first indication on Wednesday that the deadly political violence afflicting Kiev had spread far beyond the capital, announcing a crackdown on what the Interior Ministry called “extremist groups” that had burned down buildings and seized weapons nationwide.

The Interior Ministry announcement of an “antiterrorist operation” across the country came a day after Kiev was gripped with the deadliest mayhem since protests erupted in November, leaving at least 25 dead, including nine police officers. The Health Ministry said that 241 people had been wounded but Ukrainian news accounts put the number at more than 1,000.

Below, one face of the opposition.

Thanks to BB for the video.

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posted by Ace at 04:25 PM

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