Rocks, sticks and AK-47s: The weapons of Ukraine’s protests
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Clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces reached unprecedented levels of violence in the streets of Kiev Thursday. One one side, the authorities no longer hesitate to use snipers. On the other, more protesters are using makeshift weapons, and in some instances light firearms.
Screen grab from the video below.
Clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces reached unprecedented levels of violence in the streets of Kiev Thursday. On one side, the authorities no longer hesitate to use snipers. On the other, more protesters are using makeshift weapons, and in some instances light firearms.
At least 77 people have been killed since clashes resumed on Tuesday, including at least a dozen police officers, according to city authorities.
Sniper fire from the security forces’ side was widely reported in Kiev on Thursday. In the video below, one of these snipers repeatedly shoots in the direction of protesters. Ukraine’s acting interior minister announced Thursday that he had signed an order to equip police with combat weapons “to be used in accordance with the law.”
Video courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
This next video shows a confrontation between protesters and security forces in Vinnytsia, in central Ukraine. A man fires a gunshot before retreating into the security services building.
Meanwhile, some images of protesters in Kiev bearing light firearms were shared on social networks.
This one above was shared on Twitter by Dutch journalist Olaf Koens, who told FRANCE 24:
I saw this guy with a hunting rifle on Maidan Square on Thursday at about noon. He had arrived by car, and headed straight to the frontlines. He wouldn’t talk to me. The day before, I had seen another protester bearing a handgun. There are surely more. Other colleagues have reported similar encounters.
Ukraine’s security agency has claimed that protesters have seized over 1,500 firearms during street clashes. The video below shows an unidentified man decked out in protective gear hesitantly shooting a handgun at a rooftop where snipers are positioned. It was first posted online on Tuesday.
Still, at this point, most protesters seem to be using more artisanal weapons. Our Observer F. Eyraud, a Frenchman who lives in Kiev and regularly photographs the protests, describes the scene at Maidan Square on Thursday afternoon during a lull in the fighting:
Many protesters, particularly on the frontlines, were bearing sticks and metal rods. Some were also making lots of what appeared to be Molotov cocktails in plastic bottles. Lots of those near the frontlines were wearing helmets and lightweight bullet proof vests. Some have even made vests themselves, out of cans. [Some protesters on the front lines of fighting Thursday also reportedly wielded knives and axes.]
All these types of weapons have been around for a while now, but I had never seen so many of the protesters bearing them! They’re really gearing up for a long fight. They’re continuing to tear up the pavement, and using the rocks to make barricades, but also piling some of them into little pyramids behind the barricades to use for throwing. I haven't seen any firearms so far.
In this video below, protesters can be seen using shields to try to protect themselves from bouts of gunfire. Several of them, however, are hit, and can be seen bleeding.
WARNING: This video may shock viewers.
In the photo below, protesters prepare Molotov cocktails at Maidan square on Thursday morning.
On Wednesday night and on Thursday, they stocked up on rocks, ripped from the streets.