Ukraine police storm Kyiv protest camp; 21 dead

Fires burned and stun grenades ripped through the center of the Ukrainian capital early Wednesday as riot police charged the main opposition protest camp after clashes killed at least 21 people, including seven police officers.

Police and opposition representatives said many of the dead were killed by gunshots and that hundreds more were injured, with dozens in serious condition.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych addressed the nation Wednesday, and said activists who urged others protesters to bring weapons to the anti-government demonstration in central Kyiv have disregarded the principles of democracy and must face legal repercussions.

Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urged the pro-Western demonstrators occupying Kyiv’s Independence Square – also known as Maidan – to defend their positions.  He warned women and children to leave the area.

Later, Klitschko met with President Viktor Yanukovych for talks, but the meeting failed to produce a breakthrough.  Klitschko said the president demanded protesters “stop the standoff” and unconditionally clear the square.

He told the Ukrainska Pravda website that he brings “nothing good from the talks.”

Yanukovych’s advisers told reporters the president will address the nation after meeting with the opposition on Wednesday.  The exact time for the address has not been announced.

(Photo: Euromaydan, via Facebook)