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February 19, 2014

Fresh protest violence erupts in Ukrainian capital


Fire erupted in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev this week and more than a dozen people killed in the latest anti-Russian protests that have embroiled the country for almost three months.

The rallies started after the Ukrainian president rejected a deal that would have created closer ties with the European Union. Instead, President Viktor Yanukovych strengthened ties with Russia, angering those within the country who think Ukraine should break ties with its old Soviet partners and take steps to end rampant corruption in all levels of society.

The protests also signal an internal political schism, as protests are only active in the part of the country that did not vote for President Yanukovych in the 2010 elections, as seen in the map created by the Washington Post’s Max Fisher.

Max Fisher/Washington Post

Max Fisher/Washington Post

The latest violence began when Ukrainian authorities moved into Kiev’s main square to clear out the protesters camped there. At 8:00p.m. local time, ranks of riot police and armored vehicles moved in and were met with volleys of petrol bombs and fireworks. Tires and other barricade materials were set ablaze to stop the advancing troops, but stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannon slowly beat down the resistance.

Before nightfall in Kiev, nine people died, including two policemen. That toll is now known to be raising with every passing hour.

Still, little progress has been made in the pro-Russian government to manage the protests. Inside the country’s parliament building, supporters of President Yanukovych physically prevented the opposition from tabling a motion to debate the country’s constitution.

Vice President Joe Biden reportedly called the President Yanukovych Monday afternoon to tell him to step back from the brink.

Warm up questions
  1. Where is Ukraine?
  2. What are some things that your government has done that you don’t agree with?
  3. What are some ways that people make their voices heard when they are frustrated with their government?
Discussion questions
  1. Who is protesting in Ukraine and why?
  2. What is Ukraine’s relationship with Russia?
  3. What was the Soviet Union and how is it still affecting countries in the region?
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