I was working until about 2.30 this afternoon; there seemed to be a lot of sirens going off so I guessed something was going on in the city centre and headed in.
Today there was supposed to be a parliamentary vote on returning to the 2004 constitution, but the parliament did not convene in the end.
There were a lot of explosions going on at Hrushevskogo St so I walked there – the fighting had restarted and injured protestors were being ferried back from the front – one looked serious.
Plumes of smoke were rising from the area of Bankova and the City Hall – walked round to City Hall and it had been reoccupied (after been handed back to govt control yesterday).
TV screens on Maidan showed battles going on in the Institutska St area, so I started walking up the hill, past Bankova; there were quite large crowds there, and more coming out of the metro.
As I got past Bankova – still with the line of black-armoured riot police guarding the Presidential Admin buildings – there was fighting going on in the distance and a grey armoured personnel carrier with what looked like a mounted machine gun on it came into sight. There was panic, the crowd started running back down Institutska, towards Maidan.
I could also see Berkut and Interior Ministry police running forwards and striking out with truncheons; and the sound of gunfire. Not wanting to get caught in a stampede, I nipped down an alley and into a little park.
A few minutes later, there were sounds of a pitched battle. I was now caught between the line of riot police at the end of Bankova and an opposition barricade, with another guy – and a little group of demonstrators and press further off.
Several people had bloodied faces, so I gave them my hanky to try to clean themselves up and advised them to take off their protest ribbons. The police line down Bankova were shouting stuff like ‘get them’; over the barricade I could see the crowd, alternately fleeing and fighting back as they moved down Institutska.
There were some Interior Ministry cops milling around behind some gates nearby, it was pretty clear that they might join in; soon they came charging out.
A guy with blood all over him was crouched down next to me, I kind of stood so he was hidden and this line of armoured cops came running past a foot away from us, some raising their batons to strike me – I just stayed still; a couple of times I thought I was going to get hit so I said ‘I’m English’, and the batons were lowered.
The little group further away started running, I could see some of them being struck as they ran round a corner.
After a few minutes some of the police who’d ran past came back and told us to go – I ended up walking out onto Bankova – police one side, barricade the other; the police line on Bankova now started advancing while shouting and banging their shields, so I climbed through barbed wire and over the barricade, coming out onto Instututska.
Of course Berkut had just gone past; there were dazed and bloodied people sitting around, but I could not see any very serious injuries.
Now behind the Berkut and police advance, I started walking down towards Maidan – fireworks were shooting into the police in front of me and police and Berkut were firing back with tear gas, stun grenades and live rounds.
As I got to the first barricade – now being dismantled by the police – there were many more protestors (they looked like the barricade guards) sitting around – they all seemed to have head wounds and blood streamed down their faces; they were stunned and mute.
About a dozen or so protestors were laying face down near the smashed-up top entrance to Kreshatik metro, handcuffed, with guards standing over them.
I followed the police line of advance – about 80 yards in front of me a pitched battle was going on as the militia kept pushing down towards Maidan – it looked to me like they were taking it by force.
Passing through the barricade, there were bloodied and silent protestors sprawled around, some curled up into foetal positions, plus two people – an elderly man and old woman – were dead on the barricade.
Both were already a greyish colour, with still eyes. I felt for a pulse in the old woman, but she was lifeless; the bodies quickly started going green.
I could not quite work out why the militia were not arresting the barricade guards, who were just sitting there stunned, unable to move and with blood all over them; about 15 other moderate-looking protestors were around too so we started trying to help the wounded, packing ice on their bruises and giving them water etc.
The dead man lay strewn across the entrance to the barricade, with people walking around him; he was eventually pulled out of the way; the woman was lying across the barricade itself. No medical teams arrived for some time, there were constant explosions down the hill as well as people screaming. Militia walked past – poorly-disciplined.
I saw one kick one of the stunned protestors, they were also hurling insults and smashing the helmets and other paraphernalia that was lying around.
I also noticed a couple of them, however, asking injured people if they were OK. Some of us moderate protestors were remonstrating with them, and some shouting matches started between cops and the public.
After doing what I could to help the injured I walked down towards Maidan and got onto the roof of the Globus centre.
A group of Berkut were on the roof firing rifles at the crowd in Maidan below, and black smoke from burning tyres was swirling up from the burning barricades.
A Berkut officer swinging a chain approached us and grabbed a guy; started searching his backpack; so we backed off. Another Berkut officer then ran past, chasing what looked like a 16-year-old kid. I was with a few journos; we got off the roof.
I then bypassed the cops and made my way back to Maidan by about 5 pm. There were large numbers of people there, many in full battle gear; a bit later I saw a few guns. The Interior Ministry cops now line the hillsides above Maidan – they have re-taken the large yellow building over looking Maidan, the October Palace.
The Interior Ministry issued a statement that they would clear Maidan by force at 6 pm – the deadline came and went, office workers were filtering into Maidan.
The whole metro system has been shut down and doors Kreschatik and Maidan metros have been sealed up by the protestors. At about 7 pm I headed off, towards the office. Traffic is gridlocked, there were quite large numbers of people walking towards Maidan and turning up on bikes etc.
I don’t like the idea of taking close-ups of dead people, though I was feeling for the woman’s pulse.
Not sure where it is going to lead now; it looks like all hell might break loose tonight. I don’t know a lot of the details but a quick check on the Kyiv Post website suggests there are quite a few dead; and the diplomatic world has gone into overdrive.