I am writing this as the centre of Kiev burns like a ring of fire. Molotov cocktails, grenades, and fireworks are flying around, gunshots are heard left and right, and the sound of ambulances buzzes through the air. The metro has been shut. Taxis are not working. Roads to Kiev have been closed. Many have been left stranded and centrally located residents have fled. 15 people are reported dead (8 civilians and 7 police officers), 100 injured, and 15 journalists attacked.
Here is live footage of Kiev aflame:
There have been clashes throughout the day sparked by a protest march towards parliament after barricades were taken down on Hrushevs’koho Street – the front line of rioting and blockaded for over a month. The Rada (parliament) was due to meet at noon regarding a vote on returning to the Constitution of 2004 but no meeting was held.
Angered by the no show at The Rada, activists marched up Hrushevs’koho Street.
Thousands of police then surrounded the government district forcing protesters down to Maidan (Independence Square). Snipers also took up spots and fired down into the crowds. Clashes have taken place in three areas: Institututska and Shovkovychna streets, Hrushevskoho Street and Mariinsky Park.
The acting Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko issued a public warning at 4 p.m:
“If by 6 p.m. the lawlessness doesn’t cease, we shall be forced to used all legal means to bring order.”
At 5pm the police stormed the occupied Ukrainian House.
By 8pm Zakharchenko warned all women and children to leave the square as police tried to move in on the camp.
Armoured vehicles and water cannon carriers circle the centre. Protest tents have been burnt down and a police have advanced onto Maidan. Demonstrators have stacked up burning tires creating giant walls of fire to deter the police raid.
The President and opposition leaders were to meet for an emergency meeting at 11pm. But the opposition has been stood up.
Everyone is on edge, praying for calm.
As the night sky rages with red hot flames, Maidan still resonates with the sound of the national anthem “Ukraine’s glory has not yet perished, nor her freedom”. Its lyrics have never been more alive and real.