Ukraine on the brink of civil war


Ukraine descended into something close to civil war last night as pitch battles took place between police and some demonstrators. Attitudes have hardened further just a day after it looked as though both sides were backing off a little.

On the streets of Kiev yesterday at least 25 people were killed and more than 1,000 people were injured. What started off as peaceful protests back in December by people protesting the move by President Viktor Yanukovych towards the Russian Federation and away from the European Union have developed into a movement wanting regime change.

The most striking images of the protests yesterday, apart from the raging fires of burning tents and tyre barricades, were those of middle aged women joining the protesters.

The President said early today that protesters had ‘crossed the line’ and he urged protesters to “distance themselves from radical forces”. Although the president met with the three key leaders of the opposition late last night nothing fruitful came from the meeting.

The British Daily Telegraph reports this morning that with “activists in Western regions reportedly raiding police arms depots, many here are now whispering two words that were unthinkable even a month ago: civil war”.

The Kyiv Post has an excellent running newsfeed on events as they are happening and you can find it here. Most notably the Kyiv Post reports the commander of a police unit as saying that he will not give criminal orders and will not resist peaceful protests of Ukrainian citizens.

This is how the Kyiv Post reports the announcement which suggests splits in the police ranks:

“Feb. 19 11:59 a.m. Commander of Ivano-Frankivsk unit 1241 of the police troops Lieutenant Colonel Petro Shuliak made an official statement, saying he will not give criminal orders and that his unit will not fulfil criminal orders. He said his unit will not resist peaceful protests of Ukrainian citizens.

“The staff of military unit 1241 of the internal troops of Interior Ministry of Ukraine serves the Ukrainian people,” Shuliak said. –Katya Gorchinskaya”

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