Ukraine Riots Tense After Police Crackdown [Video]

The Ukraine riots continue after well-armed police withdrew from Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan. A court ruling announced Tuesday night found the protesters in violation of the law. Soon after police in riot gear began pushing on the entrenched anti-government demonstrators camped in the Ukraine capital.

Tuesday night police were seen tearing down barricades erected by protest groups. Clashes resulted and led to hundreds being injured. Soon after, concerns over the further consequences of a hard crackdown lead police to withdraw to the cheer of demonstrators. The Ukrainian government appeared to heed condemnation echoed by a number of Western leaders

Hundreds of thousands of protesters are still in the streets of Kiev, despite the cold weather. Those participating in the Ukraine riots object to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to shelve a trade agreement with the European Union. Instead, the government in Ukraine has turned to Russia for desperately needed economic assistance. This decision has upset a number of Ukrainians who have since demanded Yanukovych’s resignation.

Since protests began several weeks ago, rioters have managed to occupy and hold Kiev’s City Hall building alongside Independence Square. As riot police began dispersing, the demonstrators cheered their victory. As of Wednesday, the damaged and dismantled make-shift barricades are returning to the protester camps.

Yanukovych, after meeting with EU and US representatives, publicly announced his invitation to discuss matters with the opposition. The Ukrainian president says he is appealing to “representatives of all political parties, priests, representatives of civil society” to join him in finding a peaceful solution. In the statement Yanukovych expressed his wish to avoid “confrontation and ultimatums.”

Though demonstration leaders have yet to respond to the offer, some say Tuesday night’s raid crossed a line. Vitaly Klitschko, a world boxing champion and opposition leader, says the crackdown, however brief, has “closed off the path to compromise.” He says it shows that Yanukovych does “not wish to talk to the people and only understands physical force.”

During Tuesday night’s crackdown rioters in Kiev’s City Hall sprayed riot police with water hoses to fend them off. At one point a Molotov cocktail was thrown from a window, hitting a police truck as police began pulling away.

The Ukraine riots continue Wednesday after police have fully withdrawn from their overnight assault on the protest camps in Kiev.

[Featured image via Twitter / Stun]