Ukraine edges closer to all-out civil disorder as protests spread from Kiev

Thursday, February 20, 2014
By Paul Martin

Western cities in open revolt against government while clashes reported in the second city of Kharkiv, in Russian-leaning east

Peter Beaumont
The Guardian
Thursday 20 February 2014

The crisis in Ukraine has spiralled rapidly out of control outside of the capital, Kiev, as anti-government protesters stormed buildings, seized weapons and staged demonstrations across the western part of the country.

Amid fears that Ukraine is edging closer to a more violent fracture, reports emerged of blocked roads, train services halted from the west and government offices under occupation by protesters, with the most serious confrontations centred on the country’s pro-European and Ukrainian speaking regions.

In Ukraine’s Russian-speaking Crimea the speaker of the regional assembly, Volodymyr Kostianynov, added to the growing sense of crisis by warning that it was considering a declaration of independence in the event of further escalation. “It’s possible if the country collapses, and everything is going in that direction,” he told Interfax-Ukraine.

The most significant events outside of Kiev occurred in the western city of Lviv, close to the Polish border and a centre of Ukrainian nationalism since the Soviet era. Several thousand protesters were reported to have seized a major police barracks that had been under siege, forcing the surrender of the police inside.

The regional council in the city, which has witnessed some of the most concerted anti-government actions, announced it was no longer taking orders from the central government. The announcement came hours after protesters also seized the local prosecutor’s office. Interior ministry troops were also reported to be under siege behind barricades in their western region command headquarters.

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