Deadly clashes erupted Tuesday near Ukraine’s Parliament Building and at least 22 people were reported killed after government forces battled with protesters armed with Molotov cocktails and bricks, the UN confirmed Wednesday.
The clashes—the deadliest since mass civil unrest began in November—erupted as police tried to clear protesters camped out in Kyiv's Independence Square after a key debate earlier Tuesday involving a return to the 2004 constitution.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs laid blame Wednesday on opposition leaders for the latest violence but reiterated their commitment to a peaceful solution and not resorting to violence.
Human Rights Watch [HRW] researcher Yulia Gorbunova wrote in a dispatch Wednesday that President Viktor Yanukovych, in his first speech since the deaths, “blamed opposition leaders for the escalation and said that they will pay the price if they don’t separate themselves from radicals,” she wrote.
HRW in January reported on alleged beatings and kidnappings by Ukraine’s riot police. “Police in Kiev face serious challenges, but nothing can justify the vicious beatings we’ve documented,” Gorbunova said at the time.
Sporadic fires could be seen burning in Independence Square late Wednesday during a live stream made available by Reuters news agency.