Deadly clashes in Kiev
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
KIEV, Ukraine - Ukraine`s ongoing political crisis took a deadly turn on Tuesday as violent protests in the capital Kiev left 14 dead, according to the interior ministry.
Clashes began between protesters and riot police as the crowd attempted to breach the police barricades that surrounded the parliament building. The protesters hurled stones and set two police trucks on fire.
The riot police responded with tear gas, rubber-bullets, stun and smoke grenades to disperse the crowd.
Inside the parliament, opposition lawmakers blocked access to the speaker`s rostrum after the speaker, Volodymyr Rybak, refused to put their reform initiatives on the daily agenda during the plenary session.
Many lawmakers and parliament workers were stuck in the building due to the clashes.
In the city`s main square, protesters set tires on fire as thousands came out from behind the barricades.
A group of masked protesters attacked a building belonging to the ruling Party of Regions with Molotov cocktails.
They forced the people inside to evacuate the building by starting a fire on the ground floor and taking a police officer hostage.
The crowd also set vehicles on fire and took several police officers hostage.
Amid the escalation of violence, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko urged President Viktor Yanukovych to step down and called for early presidential and parliamentary elections.
"As a responsible politician, as the president of Ukraine, he should call early presidential and parliamentary elections," Klitschko said while pleading with the president to pull the riot police and interior ministry forces off the streets.
The opposition parties gave the ruling party an afternoon deadline to bring the necessary amendments to the parliament to readopt the 2004 constitution.
The opposition is demanding a return to the 2004 Constitution, which would make Ukraine a parliamentary, not presidential, republic. The Party of Regions insists that the opposition’s calls for constitutional change violate Ukraine’s constitution.
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