Although tensions had been easing for days, yesterday evening Ukraine erupted in chaos as the pro-western Euromaidan movement battled with the notorious Berkut security forces and the Interior Ministry's troops. Twenty-six people are dead and over 1,000 individuals are injured. Ukraine's deadliest day has marked a turning point in the revolution. The protesters' ranks and armaments are growing, while some of President Viktor Yanukovych's defenses are waning.
So far, the fight has been generally lopsided. The government has reportedly used modified less-than-lethal weapons, such percussion grenades covered in nails, to inflict greater damage. They have also apparently used automatic rifles. Videos show militarized vehicles barreling through the streets.
The opposition has retaliated with far less firepower--mostly makeshift weapons like molotov cocktails and bricks.
“I am confident that today Maidan will be stripped,” said Oleh Tsariov, a high-ranking member of President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions, as Berkut encircled the opposition last night.
That prediction didn't come true. In fact, Euromaidan has now seized government arms depots, according to The New York Times. And, although they sustained most of the injuries in yesterday's fight, literally busloads of citizens from other parts of the country are descending on the capital to join the fray.
“There can be no compromise with a dictator. [Yanukovych] must go,” explained one armed protester to Mashable.
The unrest is not exclusive to Kiev, though. It has spread to 16 different cities. While government forces focus on the capital city, police stations have been set ablaze and government buildings seized around the country.
Anti-Yanukovych rhetoric is also gearing up among political figures and provoking dissent among the police.
Although opposition representatives like Vitali Klitschko have long advocated for a non-violent resolution and have previously made concessions for peace, they refused to bend to Yanukovych's demands yesterday that protesters abandon their stronghold. “We will not go anywhere from here,” said Klitschko. “This is an island of freedom and we will defend it.”
One minority member of parliament, Lesya Orobets, condemned the government's aggression, and called upon her countrymen: “Rise, Ukraine, Rise all Ukraine. A life without dignity is not worth living.”
Lviv's mayor, a political independent, took a definite stance by openly urging the law enforcement in his city to “go out and use your weapons to protect the people – your relatives, neighbors, and friends.”
Another parliamentary member claims that police officers in Kiev have already defected and opened fire on Berkut.
Meanwhile, at least 26 members of Yanukovych's party have fled the country.
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