Monuments to Kiev's founders burn as anti-government protesters clash with riot police in Kiev's Independence Square. Efrem Lukatsky, AP
KIEV, Ukraine (USA TODAY.com) -- Renewed clashes are taking place between protesters and Ukrainian
riot police just hours after the ex-Soviet republic saw the worst
violence since independence, and as the European Union said it would
hold "extraordinary" talks on the crisis amid a deteriorating situation
that has killed at least 25 people.
SEE ALSO: A look at Ukraine's dead and wounded
Following failed talks
overnight, Kiev's Independence Square was quieter Wednesday even as the
opposition moved to retake the square after thousands of police armed
with stun grenades and water cannons rushed at protesters in a camp
That standoff led to stories of individual brutality
including that of Vyacheslav Veremiy, a journalist with daily Ukrainian
newspaper Vesti. He was returning home from the newsroom around 2
a.m. Wednesday when his taxi nearing a police station was attacked by a
group of armed thugs.
The driver and a fellow passenger were beaten. Veremiy was pulled out of the car and shot in the chest. He died shortly after.
is one of the victims of roving bands of paid government "helpers"
directed to cause disorder, who are currently roaming the streets with
bats and guns, according to witnesses of the violence.
leaders meanwhile have been watching with concern as the crisis on their
doorstep unfolds and will hold a special meeting to address the crisis
in Brussels on Thursday afternoon.
"Whoever is responsible for
decisions that lead to bloodshed in the center of Kiev or elsewhere in
Ukraine will need to consider that Europe's previous reluctance for
sanctions must be rethought," he said.France's President Francois
Hollande says he is "favorable toward EU sanctions," against Ukraine,
French news site France 24 reported. Even Germany, which had previously
rejected calls for sanctions, reconsidered with Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying that following the escalation in violence
that sanctions could be on the table.
Polish Prime Minister
Donald Tusk called for EU sanctions against Ukraine in a special session
of the Polish parliament, referring to the violence next door as the
beginning of "a civil war."
Even so, Ukrainian President Viktor
Yanukovych has blamed opposition leaders for the eruption of violence in
central Kiev that left at least 25 people dead, seen scores more
hospitalized and that has threatened to rekindle tensions between the
East and West.
In a statement published online early Wednesday, President Yanukovych
said that he had already made several attempts to compromise, but that
opposition leaders "crossed a line when they called people to arms."
Yanukovych said opposition leaders had to "draw a boundary between
themselves and radical forces," or else "acknowledge that they are
supporting radicals. Then the conversation ... will already be of a
There are few details, but Ukraine's security
services say an investigation has been launched into some politicians
for attempting a coup.
The Ukrainian Health Ministry reports that 241 have been
hospitalized, including 79 policemen and 5 journalists, in the worst
violence in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have
paralyzed Ukraine's capital in a struggle over the identity of a nation
divided in loyalties between Russia and the European Union.
statement, European Commission President Manuel Barroso expressed "shock
and utter dismay" at the violence in Ukraine while Russian President
Vladimir Putin's press secretary told Reuters that his nation continue
with a policy of non-intervention in Ukraine.
"What is happening
is a direct result of the conniving politics of Western politicians and
European bodies,'' Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.
has urged the Ukraine government to resume peaceful dialogue with the
opposition. On Tuesday, the State Department issued a travel advisory
for U.S. citizens in Ukraine.
The government, meanwhile, told
opposition leaders to get everyone "to go home" and have moved to put
the center of the city on lockdown: They shut the subway, set up
checkpoints, closed schools and have asked business owners to keep their
doors shut. They also took the opposition broadcaster, Channel 5 off
Protesters have threatened to bring hundreds of
thousands into the streets, and are pleading with the United States and
Europe to confront Moscow over what they say is a usurpation of their
fledgling democracy orchestrated by President Putin.
world is watching Ukraine," opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, a former
heavyweight boxing champion, said. "I can't imagine working with
Yanukovych's government now."
Contributing: Luigi Serenelli in Berlin, Jabeen Bhatti in Berlin, Oren Dorell in Washington, The Associated Press
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