KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Officials in Ukraine are making it clear that the country's army is ready to act against anti-government protesters.
Ukraine's embattled president, Viktor Yanukovych (yah-noo-KOH'-vich), today replaced the army chief. The move came a day after 25 people were killed and over 425 were injured in clashes between police and protesters at a protest camp in the Ukrainian capital.
And it came as the military said it would take part in what was described as a national anti-terrorist operation to restore order. Officials often refer to the protesters demanding the president's resignation as "terrorists."
The violence is the worst in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have paralyzed the capital, Kiev. The two sides are locked in a stalemate over the identity of Ukraine -- where loyalties are divided between Russia and the West. The protests began after Yanukovych turned away from a deal with the European Union in exchange for a bailout from Russia.
For a second straight night, fires are burning at the barricades in central Kiev. Hours earlier, demonstrators forced their way into the main post office on Independence Square, after a nearby building they had previously occupied was burned down yesterday.
Neither side appears willing to compromise. The opposition insists that the president step down, while Yanukovych is prepared to fight till the end.
In Moscow, the Kremlin has put its next bailout installment on hold, amid uncertainty over Ukraine's future.
190-a-14-(George Sayevich (sah-YEH'-vihch), protester from Silver Spring, Md., member of Ukrainian Self Defense team, in AP interview)-"them get there"-George Sayevich, a U.S. citizen and activist wounded during protests in Kiev, says he joined protesters who were trying to storm government buildings. (19 Feb 2014)
<<CUT *190 (02/19/14)££ 00:14 "them get there"
191-a-14-(George Sayevich (sah-YEH'-vihch), protester from Silver Spring, Md., member of Ukrainian Self Defense team, in AP interview)-"in two places"-George Sayevich, a U.S. citizen and activist wounded during protests in Kiev, says he was brutally beaten by Ukrainian police during clashes on Tuesday. (19 Feb 2014)
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187-a-13-(Secretary of State John Kerry, at news conference)-"environment for compromise"-Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States and its European allies may impose sanctions on Ukraine if its leader doesn't choose peaceful diplomacy over 'violence and mayhem.' (19 Feb 2014)
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GRAPHICSBANK: Viktor Yanukovych, as President of Ukraine, addresses the nation on a live TV broadcast, Kiev, Ukraine, graphic element on gray (19 Feb 2014)
APPHOTO XEL118: A battle scene is covered with flame and smoke while riot police stand in the background during clashes with protesters in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. The deadly clashes in Ukraine's capital have drawn sharp reactions from Washington, generated talk of possible European Union sanctions and led to a Kremlin statement blaming Europe and the West. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (19 Feb 2014)
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