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Monday, December 9, 2013

Ukraine on Edge as Protesters and the Authorities Face Off

In the continuing antigovernment demonstrations in Ukraine, Sunday is being called a historic day, when public protests thundered into a full-throttle civil uprising with a huge rally, and when demonstrators toppled a statue of Lenin.

On Monday, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty posted a video shot by its correspondent Andriy Dubchak, while noting that the police had claimed that only 60,000 demonstrators were there. The footage was recorded from the top of a frame that had been erected to construct a holiday tree, but whose trim was instead being used as part of the barricades to keep out the riot police.

The Kyiv Post shared photographs of the toppling of the Lenin statue.

But on Monday there was a push back by the authorities, and an uneasy face-off. Battalions of police officers massed on the edges of the main protest site to confront demonstrators, as my colleagues David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew E. Kramer reported.

Mr. Herszenhorn, the New York Times correspondent based in Moscow but reporting from Ukraine, has been sharing photographs and updates on his Twitter account, @herszenhorn.

Maxim Eristavi, editor in chief of Golos106fm, has been sharing images from the square.

On Twitter, The Kyiv Post has been supplying updates saying that the largest opposition party, Batkivchyna, has reported that its headquarters in Kiev had been stormed by the authorities, while businesses have closed in the area of the square.

On its Facebook page, the news organization said:

A Kyiv Post source who was inside the Batkivschyna headquarters when law enforcement stormed the office says that masked men dressed in all black and carrying machine guns ordered people to stay where they were while the group physically removed the party’s server. Meanwhile, a group of Berkut officers guarded a bus outside. Some of the men in black had “MVS” Ministry of Interior symbols on their uniforms. After removing the server, it was quickly loaded on the bus and then driven away.

It also quoted a member of the group, Ostap Semerak, as saying at 5:50 p.m. that Batkivchyna had its office taken over by armed special security forces. “In the corridor we have people with machine guns, trying to break through into server rooms,” he said.

The police said no personnel were taking part in the takeover of Batkivshchyna, The Kyiv Post said. “The Kyiv police and the troopers of Berkut are not conducting any operations on Turoivska in the Berkut office,” the police said in a statement.

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.