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Police officer killed, two others captured as violence resumes in Kiev

Published time: January 24, 2014 20:37
Edited time: January 27, 2014 13:06

Chernivtsi, January 25, 2014 (Reuters / Stringer)

Clashes have resumed in central Kiev, following a tense ceasefire. Rioters are burning tires and hurling firecrackers and Molotov cocktails at police. There are reports of injuries.

Read RT's timeline of the unrest in Ukraine

Radical protesters attacked and held three police officers inside the occupied city council building amid clashes near Independence Square. One of the officers received a stab wound, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry reported.

The injured policeman was released and hospitalized. The condition of the other two officers is unknown at this time.

The opposition has denied the ministry's report that police officers were attacked by protesters.

In a separate incident, a police officer was shot dead in Kiev on Friday night. Witnesses heard the shots and saw two people running away from the scene, Unian news agency reported. The victim lived near the Berkut living quarters.

Meanwhile an explosion went off near the police station in Cherkassy, central Ukraine. Seven windows were reportedly broken, according to Espresso.tv. There are no injuries reported.

RT’s Peter Oliver described the situation in central Kiev: “We saw many, many Molotov cocktails being thrown by the rioters, also fireworks, as well as any bits of stones, about the size of a fist if not bigger. We also saw homemade sling-shots being used on those rocks being thrown at police.”

“The wall of flame is separating the rioters and police,” he said. “There is no sign of any kind of truce, no sign of any kind of listening to calls for calm.”

Oliver said that rioters are chanting: “Glory to Ukraine, glory to heroes. Glory to the nation and death to our enemy.”

Police are responding to attacks with rubber bullets and flash grenades.

Rioters have started at least 10 new fires on Grushevskogo Street, with protesters actively adding more car tires and fuel to the flames, Unian news agency reported.

Kiev, January 24, 2014. (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

Police forces have lined up directly across from the rioters, keeping calm and periodically lighting up the area with powerful floodlights.

There are currently about 1,500 people present on Grushevskogo Street, including both rioters and police officers, according to Unian. Two ambulances have arrived at the site of the clashes.

RT's Alexey Yaroskevsky reported that people on the streets are facing severe weather, with temperatures expected to drop to -30 Celcius overnight.

In the meantime, the opposition said the civil crisis in Ukraine will be very difficult to solve without western intermediaries.

“We have a social crisis in our country, not a political one. And we discussed ways out of that crisis with our European partners. I can clearly state that it will be very difficult to find a way out of this crisis without our western partners,” Batkivshchyna opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk said after a meeting with the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Fule.

Some experts believe protesters are trying to force the issue.

“This is a typical extortion tactic. The whole point is to force the government to react, to force Berkut and other police forces to confront the protesters and then scream: ‘Bloody murder, oh my god, they are killing us, they are oppressing us, please help, foreign intervention,’” Ukrainian affairs analyst Nebojsa Malic told RT. “It is a very basic tactic from the rebellion playbook, as was articulated in Serbia 15 years ago and being implemented throughout the world in Georgia and elsewhere, even in Ukraine 2004 of all things.”

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry once again confirmed Washington’s support for Ukrainian protesters during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Kerry said the US is working with its allies and top Ukrainian officials to end the violence.

We are working with our partners to press the government of Ukraine to forego violence, to address the concerns of peaceful protesters, to foster dialogue, promote the freedom of assembly and expression,” he said.

Kerry added that he received a text message shortly before beginning his speech from US diplomats in Kiev, who are negotiating with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “to try to achieve calm and help move in this direction in the next days.”

Kiev, January 24, 2014. (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

Earlier on Friday, Yanukovich promised a government reshuffle and amendments to the anti-protest laws that triggered the violent clashes in Kiev.

"We will make a decision at this session [on January 28]. I will sign a decree and we will reshuffle the government in order to find the best possible professional government team," Yanukovich said on Friday, as quoted by his press service.

In return for rioters leaving Grushevskogo Street - the epicenter of the unrest - Yanukovich on Thursday offered the release of those detained during the riots and mitigated penalties for protesters arrested in clashes.

On Friday, he confirmed his readiness to pardon all protesters involved in the riots, as long as they have not committed grave offenses.

A total of more than 100 people were detained following mass riots in the city, Kiev authorities stated on Thursday. Hundreds have sustained injuries. Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said about 256 police officers have been wounded, 100 of them hospitalized.

Meanwhile, riots have been spreading to other cities, mostly in western Ukraine, with protesters seizing local administration buildings and demanding governors’ resignations.

Demonstrators seized the governors’ offices in the cities of Lvov, Ternopil, and Rivne, and administration buildings in Uzhgorod, Lutsk, Khmelnitsky, Zhitomir, and Sumy.

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