As it happened: Alarm at worst Kiev violence

Key points

  • Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych sacks the head of the armed forces
  • The government suggests the army might be called in for the first time to quell protests
  • The EU will meet on Thursday to discuss sanctions against "those responsible"
  • Some 26 people die in clashes on Tuesday and Wednesday, prompting the EU and US to express alarm
  • All times in GMT

Live text


  • Sarah Fowler 
  • Joe Boyle 
  • Sally Taft 
  • Amber Dawson 

Last updated 19 February 2014


Hello and welcome to the BBC's coverage of the unrest in Ukraine, as police continue to clash with anti-government protesters for a second day in the capital. Over the last 24 hours, the death toll from the violence has risen to 26.


In the last few hours, police have launched renewed assaults on protest camps set up in Independence Square, also known as the Maidan, with reports of several tents set ablaze and water cannon used. The square has been the focus of weeks of anti-government protests in central Kiev.


The EU has voiced alarm over the deteriorating situation and says it is considering financial sanctions and visa restrictions "against those responsible for violence and use of excessive forces". EU leaders plan to meet on Thursday to discuss the "targeted measures", says European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.


map Satellite image showing smoke rising during Kiev clashes on 18 February

The violence erupted on Tuesday outside parliament after government supporters blocked attempts to scale back the president's constitutional powers. Fighting spread to nearby streets, then police launched their first attack on the central protest camp on Tuesday evening.


It is unclear what sparked the clashes, with each side blaming the other. Speaking earlier today, President Yanukovych said he blamed "radical elements", urging opposition leaders to distance themselves from those "who seek bloodshed and conflict". Protesters meanwhile blame pro-government agents, known as "titushki", of inciting the violence.


Children light candles in front of the Ukrainian embassy, in Vilnius, Lithuania, 19 February 2014

The interior ministry says ten of those killed yesterday were police. At least 14 protesters were also among the dead, as well as a journalist working for the Russian-language newspaper Vesti.

People have been paying their respects outside the Ukrainian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Wednesday.


An anti-government protester walks in Independence Square in central Kiev on 19 February 2014.

Anti-government protesters locked in standoff with riot police over burning barricades in Independence Square today


The unrest is not just restricted to the Ukrainian capital, with reports of violence erupting in the western cities of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil.


Protesters have also reportedly seized weapons from a security service building they captured in the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk including 268 pistols, two rifles, three handheld machine guns and 92 grenades, according to Interfax-Ukraine news agency.