Ukrainian television stations are broadcasting the ongoing confrontation between protestors and police at Kiev's Independence Square, where protests against President Viktor Yanukovych have been centered for nearly three months now. A livestream from Espreso TV — among others — currently shows hundreds of Ukrainians glowing red as tires from their camp at the square burn and send smoke billowing above the streets. Reuters reports that Kiev, Ukraine's capital, has seen its worst violence in weeks today, with 14 reported dead.
Police ordered protestors to leave by tonight
According to the Guardian, authorities ordered the tens of thousands of protestors in Independence Square to leave by tonight or face police eviction. Water cannons and stun grenades were reportedly used against the protestors earlier in the evening, but a full assault on the camp is yet to occur. According to KyivPost, an English-language paper in Ukraine, the fires are in part being fueled by the protestors who hope to use them as a barrier to keep the police away. It also reports that Ukraine's government said earlier today that it would only enter discussions with the opposition if fighting were to stop.
"Extremists are killing innocents on the streets of the capital, burning buildings and cars," Ukrainian security services said in a statement, according to the Guardian. "Unless the disorder stops, we will have to restore order by all means envisaged by law."
In a statement of their own, as reported by The Guardian, protestors blamed police for blocking care for the injured: "The violent clashes today have to date resulted in deaths by bullets and hundreds of injuries, including seven people in a critical position. Snipers posted on roofs are targeting the heads and chests of protesters. Ambulances blocked by security forces are not able to provide first aid to the injured." Though their deadline for eviction has come and gone, some protestors on the ground reportedly suspect that police may still be preparing to remove them from the square tonight.
Protestors attempted to march on parliament earlier today
The conflict rose to new heights today after protestors attempted to and were stopped from marching on Ukraine's parliament to support a vote that would have shifted powers away from the president and back toward the legislature, reports the Washington Post. The country's constitution was reportedly changed in 2010 — shortly after Yanukovych took office — to give more power to the president; protestors have been hoping to revert the constitution to its 2004 text.
The protestors also reportedly see Yanukovych as moving Ukraine closer to Russia, whereas a sizable contingent of the country would prefer that it be oriented more with the European Union. It was Yanukovych shooting down an EU agreement in November that initially fueled protests.
Despite claims that the government would not negotiate, Reuters reports that an opposition leader is entering discussions with Yanukovich, potentially keeping protestors and authorities in the square at a standoff now.
Update: On Wednesday morning, the Ukrainian Health Ministry is reporting 25 dead and 241 hospitalized after a night of violence.