In the internet age, some events are still throwbacks to the era of physical confrontation. This dispatch comes in three parts: minute-by-minute reports from this past night in Ukraine, background from a friend in Kiev, and an Associated Press summary
Bulletins from Radio Svoboda [Freedom] in Kiev, Ukraine, where pro-Russian government forces last night tried to clear pro-European protesters from the city’s central square and buildings:
6:37 People on Maidan [central square] in Kyiv [Kiev] are heroes—they managed to hold unarmed against armed aggressive special forces for over 5 hours now.
6:28 Police forces still try to surround Maidan from all sides. The whole picture of these movements during last 5 hours is very surreal.
6:20 People say that as the sun rises, evil forces vanish, so should Berkut [special units of Ukrainian police].
6:17 Some police forces have moved away, but the most aggressive and trained Berkut special forces still stand in the center of the crowd. Ruslana [popular singer and member of Ukrainian parliament] chants from stage: “Weapons down, stand beside us!”
5:58 Ruslana from stage asks all students to come out on the streets and join the protesters. The number of people constantly increases. Since all roads are closed by road police, people leave their cars on the way and walk to Maidan. People at Maidan sing National Anthem.
5:55 To get warmer [temperature: 12 degrees Fahrenheit], protesters from time to time jump chanting, “If you’re not jumping, you’re a Moskal [slang for Russian].”
5:52 Protesters deflated the wheels of the state-owned Utility Service Truck, which arrived to dismantle the barricades.
Background from Andre Barkov in Kiev:
Prayers and awareness campaigns are what we need!
Everything started November 20, when Yanukovich decided to postpone signing association treaty with EU using pretty weak excuses. Most likely Russian President Putin made him an offer he couldn’t’t refuse.
Yanukovych have been promising us European future for last 3 years, no wonder this recent trick made a lot of people mad!
Next high point was November 30: Police troops used excessive force against sleeping students. A lot of them got badly wounded. Next day about half a million of protesters went out. Activists started building barricades.
On November 8 about 1 million protesters came out!
Last night there was one more high point. Police troops attempted to break through barricades, but protesters stood out!
More and more people are coming out!
God bless Ukraine!
Please, keep praying!
Associated Press summary:
Ukraine police stand down after protest grows
KIEV, Ukraine (AP)—Ukrainian police on Wednesday pulled back as protesters claimed victory after an overnight face-off in which authorities removed barricades and tents and scuffled with demonstrators occupying Kiev’s main square.
Squadrons of police in helmets and bearing metal shields converged at about 1 a.m. on Independence Square, but thousands of protesters put up fierce resistance for hours, shoving back at police lines to keep them away from key sites.
The Ukrainian chief of police issued a statement insisting there would be no attempt to break up the demonstrations. Protesters have been gathering around the clock to demand the resignation of the government in a crisis that threatens the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovych.
“I want to calm everyone down—there will be no dispersal,” Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko said on the ministry’s website. “No one is encroaching on the rights of citizens to peaceful protest.”
Three police buses that had been parked outside the building all night drove away to cheers and shouts of “shame!” from several thousand protesters who remained on the square. Another group of police that had been stationed outside the Kiev city hall building, which has been occupied by protesters for weeks, also departed.
“This is a great victory,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a top opposition leader, shouted from the stage at Independence Square.
Throughout the standoff the police appeared to be under orders to refrain from excessive force, unlike the violent beatings of protesters in recent weeks. Several demonstrators and police were injured, but police helped injured activists up from the ground and moved them away.
After some of the barricades and tents were dismantled, police and city workers began to remove debris with bulldozers. Policemen used what appeared to be chain saws to clear the barricades. …
But as the sun rose over Kiev in the morning, the police had not been able to drive back the protesters on the square or to storm the city administration building, where demonstrators poured water on the freezing building’s steps and on policemen from open windows. …
Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, who is a reigning world heavyweight boxing champion, urged Ukrainians to rush to the center of the capital to defend democracy.
“We will say no to a police state, no to a dictatorship,” he told protesters in the square.
The confrontation unfolded as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland were in the city to try to talk to the government and the opposition to work out a solution.
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