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Anti-Government Protests In Ukraine Turn Deadly

NPR icon by Krishnadev Calamur
Sergei Chuzavkov

We've been telling you about the unrest in Ukraine where anti-government protests that began last November have shut down the capital, Kiev. Today [Tuesday], those protests turned deadly.

At least nine people were killed and dozens injured in violent battles between the demonstrators and riot police. Kiev police said the dead included two police officers. News reports said seven protesters were killed.

At issue is Ukraine's future direction. Late last year, President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow, leading to protests against his government.

The New York Times reports on Tuesday's unrest:

"The violence began early on Tuesday when antigovernment activists moved out of their barricaded zone around Independence Square and advanced into a government-controlled district, battling riot police officers with stones and Molotov cocktails in the worst clashes in nearly a month. A group of young militants occupied and set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Party of Regions. ...

"Much of the violence early Tuesday took place along Instyuts'ka Street near Ukraine's Parliament building and the main offices of the government. Protesters hurled stones at police officers sheltering behind a barricade of blazing vehicles while ambulances, sirens wailing, rushed to help people injured in the clashes."

Law enforcement officials had set a deadline for protesters to clear out Tuesday, and as darkness fell over Kiev, The Associated Press reported that the protest camp in the center of the capital was engulfed in flames. Police advanced on the protesters, using water cannons to disperse demonstrators near Independence Square.

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