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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Struggle for Kiev Square Unfolds Live Online

A screenshot of four live video streams from Kiev's Independence Square early Wednesday. A screenshot of four live video streams from Kiev’s Independence Square early Wednesday.

As my colleagues David Herszenhorn and Andrew Kramer report from Kiev, the security forces failed to clear protesters from the city’s main square overnight, despite dismantling barricades and shoving against lines of demonstrators for hours in the freezing cold.

The relative restraint shown by the riot police, known as the Berkut, was in marked contrast to the brutal beating of protesters and journalists during the government’s last attempt to clear the protest camp, just over a week ago. The security forces’s new tolerance of journalism meant that interested observers who were not in the square, or even in the country, were able to follow events as they unfolded in granular detail, watching live video of the tense standoff in the square streamed from multiple camera angles, reading text updates from reporters and activists as the hours passed and viewing photographs of protesters fortifying their defenses at the nearby city hall they continue to occupy.

One of those streaming video throughout the night, from both sides of the front lines, was Mustafa Nayyem, an independent Ukrainian journalist. At one stage, Mr. Nayyem recorded the dismantling of barricades by officers and men in orange vests who appeared to be municipal workers.

Video streamed live to the web overnight by Mustafa Nayyem, a Ukrainian journalist who uses the screen name mefimus.

As night gave way to morning, video posted on Instagram by Max Seddon, a Buzzfeed correspondent in the square, and Sergey Ponomarev, a New York Times photographer, showed that the protest camp’s sound system continued to blast out a driving hard-rock soundtrack to the action, punctuated by repeated renditions of the national anthem from the Ukrainian pop star Ruslana.

Although the lack of violence made for less obviously dramatic images, there was one extraordinary scene captured on video at about 2 a.m. local time. As both the Guardian reporter Shaun Walker and the Dutch correspondent Olaf Koens reported on Twitter, hours into the shoving match, a phalanx of riot police officers suddenly found themselves forced through the lines and then trapped inside the square. The protesters, however, treated them with mercy, and formed a cordon through their lines to allow them to retreat.

Clear images of that scene were recorded by a young Ukrainian filmmaker, Vasia Nikolayenko. Just over four minutes into his footage of the night’s action, Mr. Nikolayenko showed the orange-helmeted protesters clearing a path through their ranks and the police officers filing out.

Video recorded overnight in Kiev by a 20-year-old Ukrainian filmmaker, Vasia Nikolayenko, showed protesters forming a cordon to allow riot police officers, briefly stranded behind their lines, to retreat.
Mr. Nikolayenko, who was 11 years old during the last round of mass protests against the current president, Viktor Yanukovich, also had some fun with video of a statue of Lenin that was toppled by protesters in Kiev last week, producing a remix set to the soundtrack from the Super Mario Brothers video game.

A YouTube remix of video recorded during the toppling of a statue of Lenin in Kiev last week.