Maidan holds out. What may lie ahead? (photos, video)

The centre of Kyiv has turned into a flashpoint: armoured personnel carriers burn and the death toll is rising. Hospitals are overflowing as the number of seriously injured people swells into the hundreds. Both sides in the conflict face trouble.

{movie}Berkut soldiers beating a protestor.|right|14893{/movie}

It is noteworthy that Maidan’s Self-Defence Service did not let radicals batter Berkut soldiers captured by protestors and even released them in some cases.

{movie}Berkut soldiers captured by protestors.|right|14894{/movie}

The storm that might-have-been and smashed negotiations

Last evening riot police managed to force protesters back from the barricades. They warned that ‘an antiterrorist operation’ was about to be launched. Siloviki’s several attempts to storm and take the Maidan were met with failure. The protestors held out.

{movie}Storming Maidan.|right|14892{/movie}

At night opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk met with President Viktor Yanukovych. Eager to end the violence, the searched for the possibility of a truce, but the talks ended with no solution to the crisis. Mr Yanukovych urged leaders of the opposition to distance themselves from ‘radicals’ otherwise the further negotiations ‘would be held in a different way’. Still, the Ukrainian President considers himself to be dovish. He claims to have turned down his advisors’ proposals to pacify the conflict by force.

No way back?

In the city traffic is restricted: road police are inspecting vehicles and cordoning off the routes to Maidan. It is the first time the Kyiv underground has been stopped since the Second World War.

In western regions of the country activists occupied governmental buildings and offices and policemen put their arms down. Mr Yanukovych seems to have lost control over these areas and by all appearances, has no resources to regain his power there.

Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that the authorities are ready for compromise and concessions. Top officials and Siloviki offered activists surrender with no strings attached. But the other side holds this proposal to be entirely unacceptable. They demand the resignation of the incumbent President and his cabinet.

No fortune-telling

There is no saying what the next days holds but political analysts have developed possible scenarios. A worse case scenario has Mr Yanukovych choosing to use force to end the standoff: Berkut would launch a fully armed assault on the protestors. As a result, the standoff might well erupt into a partisan war.

With that possibility, high hopes are put on internationally mediated talks, which could establish at least a provisional truce and lay basis for further compromise.

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