Riot police have started to move in on a large protest camp in Kiev's Independence Square tonight, breaking through barricades and clashing with protestors.
Over the past several weeks, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have taken to the streets to voice their displeasure with president Viktor F. Yanukovich and demand his resignation after he pulled out of a trade deal with the European Union. Last night, protestors tore down a statue of Lenin and replaced it with an EU flag.
It seemed like things were getting better earlier today. Yanukovich said that he would be amenable to the EU deal if the conditions were more favorable, financially, to Ukraine. And EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is quite popular with the protestors, is currently in the country for a short visit and visited the so-called "Euromaidan" camps.
And then, despite (or perhaps in a show of defiance against) Ashton's presence in the country, several hundred police in riot gear began to move in on the camps as protestors sang the Ukrainian national anthem. It's ominous, but so far things have remained largely peaceful. So far.
BuzzFeed's Max Seddon, who is on the scene, reports:
Protesters stood their ground and vowed to protect the camp. A stage set up at the center of the protest hosted opposition activists and Orthodox priests, who regularly erupted into chants as the night wore on. Protesters let out shouts of 'Kiev, rise up!' and 'Peaceful protest!'
As the night wore on early Wednesday, protesters and police engaged in an hours-long standoff. From the stage, one speaker said: 'We are peaceful. We are citizens of Ukraine just like you. Don’t hit us.' Others sang songs, including Ukraine's national anthem.
For more, here's a livestream of Kiev's Independence Square:
Live streaming video by Ustream