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Monday, December 2, 2013

Video of Police Brutality in Kiev Fuels Rage

Video of riot police officers beating protesters in Kiev early Saturday was posted on YouTube by the Afghan-Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayyem.

As my colleague David Herszenhorn reports from Kiev, thousands of opposition protesters demanding the resignation of the government continued to occupy Independence Square in the Ukrainian capital on Monday, two days after images of the police battering demonstrators there backfired on the authorities, swelling the street protests.

One video clip of riot police officers attacking protesters before dawn on Saturday, posted on YouTube by the Afghan-Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayyem, was viewed more than 780,000 times within 48 hours. Similar footage broadcast by Ukraine’s Channel 5 and shared widely on social networks showed images of bloodied protesters.

Video of police officers in Kiev battering protesters early on Saturday was broadcast and posted online by a local news channel.

Perhaps aware of its online audience, the channel later posted an extended remix of its video of protesters being battered by the police on YouTube, set to a driving beat from the Ukrainian band Tartak.

Video of protesters in Kiev being attacked by police officers, set to music by the Ukrainian band Tartak.

Hromdaske.tv, a new Ukrainian Internet television channel that is providing live-stream coverage of the protests, also added music to one video report on the attempt to clear the square Saturday, along with subtitled video of a police spokeswoman attempting to explain the action.

Video from Hromdaske.tv, a Ukrainian Internet television channel that is providing live-stream coverage of the protests.

The violence intensified on Sunday, after protesters denounced as “provocateurs” by opposition leaders commandeered a tractor and attempted to break through police lines around the president’s office on Bankova Street.

Video from the Ukrainian news site Liga.net showed the tense standoff late Sunday between protesters and the police near the president’s office in Ukraine.

As Ilya Mouzykantskii, a former intern at the Moscow bureau of The New York Times, explained, the mayhem around the president’s office led to jokes online that compared the streets of Kiev to those of Gotham, the fictional city patrolled by Batman.

Video of the ensuing clashes near the presidential compound Sunday evening posted on YouTube and the Russian social network VK by Vasia Nikolayenko, a 20-year-old filmmaker in Kiev, showed officers charging into the crowd, clubbing demonstrators and breaking their phones, but also coming under attack themselves.

Video of intense clashes between the police and protesters near the presidential compound in Kiev on Sunday posted online by Vidro Productions, the Kiev filmmaker Vasia Nikolayenko’s company.

Ukrainian filmmaker Vasia Nikolayenko’s video of a riot police officer breaking a man’s phone at a protest in Kiev on Sunday.

Vidro Productions video appeared to show police brutality on Sunday.

Perhaps aware that violence against the police risked tarnishing the reputation of the protests, and could give President Viktor Yanukovich a reason to declare emergency rule, opposition leaders had tried to defuse the tension outside the presidential compound before it boiled over. Video posted on YouTube by Uliana Kovalchuk appeared to have been recorded on Sunday evening from above Bankova Street as political leaders tried to talk protesters down using megaphones.

Video posted on YouTube by a witness to Sunday’s protests near the presidential compound in Kiev showed opposition leaders pleading with demonstrators to remain peaceful.

Glenn Kates, who is live-blogging the protests for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, points out that one opposition leader, the boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko, even made a personal effort to intimidate one man identified as a provocateur, in a scene captured on video.

According to Thomas Grove, a Reuters correspondent, Mr. Klitschko eventually succeeded in convincing a few thousand protesters to leave the area.

Video shot by Christopher Miller, an American editor for the Kyiv Post, showed riot police officers coming under attack from protesters in another part of the city on Sunday night, as they attempted to defend a statue of Lenin from assault by the demonstrators.

Video recorded Sunday night by Kyiv Post editor Christopher Miller showed part of a pitched battle around a statue of Lenin in the Ukrainian capital.

As The Moscow News explained, “That Lenin statue in downtown Kiev has been point of contention for years. Attacked before, to communists’ outrage.

Mr. Miller reported on Twitter that Lenin’s defenders were members of the Ukrainian interior ministry’s special forces, known as the Berkut.

Although a rumor swept social networks at one stage that Lenin had been decapitated in the fighting, video posted online by the American-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty showed that the Soviet icon remained standing and intact.

Video recorded Sunday night on Shevchenko Blvd. in Kiev by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty showed police officers defending a statue of Lenin.

Following that mayhem, Hromdaske.tv posted video online Tuesday of a group of female protesters, chanting “Peaceful!” and marching up to a line of riot police officers. The women then decorated the officer’s shields with ribbons and painted hearts in blue and gold, the colors of Ukraine, and the European Union.

Hromdaske.tv video of female protesters painting hearts and tying ribbons on the shields of riot police officers in Kiev.

Among the casualties of the weekend’s violence, were dozens of journalists, including a photographer for The New York Times, Joseph Sywenkyj, who was wounded by shrapnel from a stun grenade or gas canister, and Roman Kupriyanov, a cameraman for Euronews who suffered a concussion after being clubbed in the head by a police officer while filming the clashes near the presidential compound.

Raw footage from Euronews of the news organization’s cameraman in Kiev being attacked by the police on Sunday.

In addition to occupying Independence Square, protesters also retained control of the Kiev city council building on Monday, where they painted the words “Revolution Headquarters,” in black paint, defaced images of the president and jeered when a supporter of the government appeared to speak with them.

Video from the Ukrainian news site Liga.net of Kiev’s city council building occupied by protesters.

As Glenn Kates reported on Monday: “Vadim Kolesnichenko, a Party of Regions deputy, known for his efforts to make Russian an official language, along with Ukrainian, came to the city administration building today â€" apparently in an attempt to speak with protesters. It did not go over well. Protesters shout ‘ganba’ â€" shame.”

Video of a member of the Ukrainian president’s party attempting to speak with protesters occupying the city council building in Kiev on Monday.