Skirmishes between protestors and riot police continued in central Kiev on Monday after a night of violence.
News reports from the site of the clashes showed burned-out buses and police vehicles, which soon became barricades for a small group of radical protesters who appear determined to storm government buildings.
A small group of radical protesters Sunday night attacked lines of riot police with stones and Molotov cocktails. The police fought back with tear gas and flash bangs, according to reporters on the scene.
The fires burned all night, and today the streets are littered with cobblestones after they were hurled at police overnight, along with broken glass.
Today meetings were scheduled between opposition leaders and a representative from the government to try to come to a political solution, but some opposition leaders refused to negotiate until President Viktor Yanukovich joined the talks himself.
Yanukovich’s decision to walk away from a trade deal with the European Union and instead pursue an agreement with Russia sparked the protests in late November, with many Ukrainians worried that their country was embracing Moscow instead of the West.
The protests have continued through the bitter winter and, after a holiday lull, picked up again this weekend as people took to the streets to protest a new law, passed Thursday, that restricts demonstrations. After that larger protest ended, the small radical group began moving toward the government buildings.
It’s perhaps a sign that tensions and frustrations are finally boiling over.
Will the protesters back down? One indication may come in the form of a hulking wooden frame a group of protesters erected today: a catapult, made out of scrap wood and metal, built to fling rocks harder and farther at the police.
On Sunday, opposition leader and former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko tried to stop the violence, but according to a video of the incident posted online, he was quickly booed by the protesters and doused with a powder fire extinguisher.