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(VIDEO) 18-25 dead in Ukraine riots; political protestors occupy Kiev's Independence Square
At least 18 people are dead in Kiev, Ukraine after a day of rioting, water cannons, bombs, and rubber bullets. 200 people have been injured in the conflict, according to reports. (Source: BBC)
"A large section of the protest camp in the capital, Kiev, was engulfed in flames on Tuesday night as police advanced on the demonstrators using water cannons and stun grenades," reported The Guardian's Ian Traynor on Tuesday.
"The security services had earlier issued a warning, ordering tens of thousands of protesters to get off the streets by Tuesday evening or face a crackdown."
Some news outlets say at least 25 people are dead, with nine of them police officers (according to RT). Rioters have been attacking police, torching vehicles, and taking over buildings, as tensions violently escalated through Tuesday, which started with police moving in on protestors in Kiev's Independence Square.
The protestors were approaching Kiev's government building on Tuesday, with their anger aimed at Yanukovych, before police took action.
The conflict has been bubbling since last November, when Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych delayed his promise to either roll back his powers or to appoint a new, coalition government. Under Ukraine's 2004-era constitution – which the protestors are trying to have their government revert to – key powers would be in the hands of the country's legislators, not its president.
"We hope that the deputies from the majority will recognize what they have to do and allow a vote on constitutional change," said the leader of Ukraine's party Svoboda, Oleg Tyagnybok. (Source: Deutsche Welle)
On Friday, February 14, Yanukovych's office released the following statement – titled 'I want to save our country' – on his government's website:
"I have been incited to various ways of solving this situation. But I would like to say that I do not want to make war. I do not want any decisions to be made in a radical manner. I want to save our country.
"It is my goal. All we do is to establish peace in the country."
The protest camp is located in Kiev's Maidan, or Independence Square. There were estimated to be 20,000 protestors in the camp on Tuesday.
Protestors have been camped out in Independence Square for three months.
Below is a photo of what the Maidan normally looks like:
And here are three videos (from RT) of what it looked like on Tuesday: