Five dead in first fatalities of Ukraine protests

By jeffrey rindskopf,

Ukrainian police stormed through anti-government demonstrations on Wednesday, causing violent clashes that left at least five dead in the first fatalities of the protests.

AFP reports that protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at authorities and they responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades.

The clashes were focused on Grushevsky Street in the city center where thousands of demonstrators and security forces have been fighting for over three days. Wednesday's events, however, marked a steep escalation in tensions between the government and its opponents.

According to The Daily Times, the two months of protests are a result of the Ukrainian government's refusal to sign a deal providing for greater integration with the European Union (EU). The government is under Russian pressure not to sign the accord. On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych met with opposition leaders to discuss the protests and actions to be taken to end the hostilities, but it is unclear so far if the talks will have any impact.

Currently, it looks as if the situation will only intensify, as opposition leader and former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko spoke to crowds in Kiev after the meeting.

"If Yanukovych does not make concessions, then tomorrow [Thursday] we will go on the attack," Klitschko said. He said the talks will continue, and that the president could end the feud without bloodshed by calling for early elections.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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