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HomeNewsUkraine Protests Take A Turn For The Worse, With 33 Dead EU Agrees To Sanctions

Ukraine Protests Take A Turn For The Worse, With 33 Dead EU Agrees To Sanctions

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The ongoing Ukraine protests have taken a turn for the worse, with the EU reportedly agreeing in an emergency meeting Thursday to impose sanctions against the government. The Ukraine protests started at the end of November in response to President Yanukovych’s rejection of a landmark trade deal with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.

The tension had decreased last Monday when protesters ceased occupying government facilities in return for amnesty against prosecution.

Just one day later, however, outside of the parliament violence erupted when pro-government supporters known as the “titushki” barricaded the opposition’s attempt to scale back the president’s constitutional powers.

With the breakdown of the truce agreed upon on Wednesday, it is unclear which party provoked the fight, each party blaming the other for using live rounds.

Nevertheless, there is real combat that is taking place on the streets of Kiev. The violence ensued into the surrounding area and the Ukrainian riot police employed their first attack on Kiev’s Independence Square.

A trade union building that sheltered several protesters was set on fire and people could be seen evacuating by climbing down the walls to escape the flames.

The death toll has risen on both sides — leaving at least 33 people dead — and it is feared that the death rate will rise further. Among the deceased were 10 police officers, a minimum of 21 protesters who reportedly were killed by security forces in Kiev, and a journalist working for the Russian-language newspaper,  Vesti. The journalist, Vyacheslav Veremyi, was pulled from a taxi by masked men and shot.

Hundreds of people have been treated for injuries.

Witnesses have stated that some died as a result of single gunshot wounds, common and indicative of sniper fire. Now, video footage has emerged showing snipers firing on demonstrators who had been trying to retake their protest camp in Independence Square.

Officials stated that there are 67 police officers that had been captured by protesters.

Russia places fault upon the protesters making accusations that the anti-government demonstrators were engineering a violent take over of power.

President Viktor Yanukovych accuses the opposition leaders for the horrendous display of blood shed.

After failed talks President Yanukovych with opposition leaders Vitaly Klitschko, the leader of the Udar (Punch) party and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who heads the Fatherland party, appealed to Yanukovych to “stop the bloodshed and minimize the victims.”

On Wednesday President Yanukovych stated: “The opposition leaders have disregarded the principle of democracy according to which one obtains power not on the streets or maidens but through elections.”

Before agreeing to impose sanctions, three European Union foreign ministers — France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Poland’s foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier — had a five-hour meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych.

The foreign ministers agreed on the scope of the sanctions will be adjusted according to the developments in Ukraine. The restrictions are to be drafted into law in the coming days, Reuters reports.

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski met with opposition leaders — Vitaly Klitschko, who is the leader of the Udar (Punch) Party, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who heads the Fatherland Party — to test a “proposed agreement.” The details of the agreement are still unclear.

The EU, up until now, had refrained from imposing sanctions on Ukraine, stressing dialogue and compromise as a solution.

The US state department announced visa bans on 20 members of the Ukrainian government, however they did not provide any names. U.S. officials at the State Department reiterated Thursday that it would work with its European allies to resolve the crisis, and is now considering whether or not to join the EU sanctions. A freeze on assets and travel bans will hurt the oligarchs who back Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Vitaly Klitschko, stated the next round of negotiations with President Yanukovych would resume later on Thursday.

Written by

Laura Lee Baris is the Assistant Editor at People's Pundit Daily (PPD) and the Producer of "Inside the Numbers" with the People's Pundit. Laura covers politics, entertainment, culture and women's issues. She is also married to the People's Pundit, Richard D. Baris, and a mother to their two beautiful children.

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