Kiev, Crimea – Ukraine
February 20th-26th 2014
The clashes began after a period of relative calm in the anti-government demonstrations ended abruptly on 18 February 2014 when protesters and police clashed. At least 82 people were killed, including 13 policemen; over 1,100 were injured.
The initial riots began on 18 February 2014 when some 20,000 Euromaidan protesters in Kiev advanced on Ukraine’s parliament in support of restoring the Constitution of Ukraine to its 2004 form, which had been repealed by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine shortly after Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in 2010. Police blocked their path. Police fired guns, with both rubber bullets and, later, live ammunition (including automatic weapons and sniper rifles), while also using tear gas and flash grenades in an attempt to repel thousands of demonstrators, who fought back with crude weapons, firearms, and improvised explosives. On 20 February, Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaliy Zakharchenko announced he had signed a decree authorizing the usage of live ammunition against protesters.Central Kiev saw the worst violence yet, and the death toll in 48 hours of clashes rose to at least 77. In response, the next day Chairman of the Ukrainian parliament Volodymyr Rybak announced he had signed a parliamentary decree, condemning the usage of force and urging all institutions (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Cabinet of Ministers, etc.) to cease immediately all military actions against protesters. The Ukrainian parliament also suspended Zakharchenko from his duties. On 21 February, President Yanukovych signed a compromise deal with opposition leaders, envisaging a new national unity government, constitutional changes to hand powers back to parliament and early elections, to be held by December. After impeaching Yanukovych on 22 February, Parliament named its speaker Oleksandr Turchynov as interim president on 23 February. On the next day, the protestors were reported to be in control of Kiev and President Viktor Yanukovych was reported to have fled the capital for eastern Ukraine.The Parliament, or Verkhovna Rada, voted with 328 deputies in favour and none against impeaching Yanukovych and scheduled new presidential elections for 25 May. As of 23 February 2014, Yanukovych’s whereabouts were unknown, with multiple conflicting reports of his recent movements.