What Happened Overnight in Kiev and Throughout Ukraine

February 19, 2014

The following is a translation of an article on Slon, summarizing yesterday’s events across Ukraine. For more details see The Interpreter’s liveblog, which has extensive pictures, videos, and reports. Also see today’s liveblog for the latest news. — Ed.

  • Barricades on the side of Institutskaya Street and Evropeyskaya Square were taken by Berkut, the square is almost blocked on all sides (some individual passageways still remained, through which women were being taken away and outsiders were sneaking in.)The tents along the edges of the square caught on fire, and a large section [of the tent city] was taken over by the siloviki with water cannon, grenades, and APCs nonetheless.
  • The electricity was turned off throughout the district, the stage continued to have light and sound due to an electrical generator. Protestors gathered in a circle placed burning tires along the perimeter and did not allow Berkut to reach the stage, actively throwing Molotov cocktails.
  • Berkut tried to take the House of Trade Unions, where the opposition headquarters, hospital and news center were located. As a result, the building caught on fire, several people including the Berkut soldiers themselves wound up blockaded inside the building. The firemen at first could not reach the place, and then get water — the hydrants were evidently blocked by the police. By morning, fire had destroyed almost half the building. Nothing is known yet about the casualties.
  • Leaders of the opposition from Maidan went to see Yanukovych, but waited for several hours in the reception area while Berkut was crushing people on the square (during that time, several more people were killed). Finally, the meeting took place, but they did not manage to come to any agreement. Yanukovych demanded that at first, everyone disperse to their homes. Klichko said that Yanukovych is not in touch with what is really happening in the situation.
  • In Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk and Ternopol, a crowd of protesters seized the building of the regional administration, then the local departments of the Interior Ministry and prosecutor’s building which were then destroyed. In Ternopol, the army depot with arms was also seized. In Lvov, the police refused to battle the opposition and lay down its arms.
  • No one could reach anyone on the phone. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski unsuccessfully tried to reach Yanukovych. Yanukovych in turn broke off the call from Vladimir Putin — and also without a result — the president of Russia was too busy. The only person who managed to get through was US Vice President Joe Biden. He apparently spoke with Yanukovych and got across to him that what was going on was absolutely unacceptable. What Yanukovych said in response is not known.
  • Information from various sources contradicts each other, but what can be said approximately is that by 7:00 am, about 20 people had been killed in the riots, and significantly more than a thousand were wounded. This includes dozens of policemen who have been severely wounded, and at least six killed. The main injuries are: eyes popped out from light and noise grenades, fractures, burns, gunshot wounds. Seven people suffered in the fire from smoke inhalation and burns. They were all rescued.