Weeks of street clashes in Kiev have resulted in 150 police officers being injured and two protesters killed. The violence has intensified since a new law regulating protests took effect last week. Secretary of State Kerry has called the laws “anti-democratic.”
Protesters are demanding a new government and calling for revolution. The leader of the opposition, Vitali Klitschko, met with the sitting President and promised to go “on the attack” if his demands were not met. At a minimum he wants new elections.
Protesters are using paving stones pulled up from the street and Molotov cocktails against police. Some protesters even built a catapult in the street to allow attacks from a greater range. This video shot Monday shows several officers being set on fire:
Police tried to clear out barricades Wednesday leading to greater violence. Two protesters were killed and found to have died from bullet wounds. Authorities claim that police are only armed with rubber bullets while protesters claim a police sniper is responsible for at least one of the deaths. This Reuters report gives a sense of the current standoff:
In December, Secretary of State Kerry issued a statement condemning the crackdown on the protesters. He wrote, in part:
The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv’s Maidan Square with riot police, tear gas, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity. This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy.
Today the State Department issued a statement condemning the violence and killings. The statement blames both the anti-protest laws and elements among the protesters for “inflaming conditions.”