Kiev Responds to New Anti-Protest Laws by Turning Up Protest Intensity

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A Ukrainian pro-EU protester stands behind a makeshift barricade in Independence Square in Kiev early on January 18, 2014. Photo: GENYA SAVILOV/2014 AFP

Demonstrators in Ukraine's capital city have escalated their battles with police after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych tightened laws against public gatherings. The unrest, which started peacefully, began when Yanukovych decided to "spurn a planned trade deal with the European Union and turn toward Russia instead," CNN reports. Now hundreds of protesters and police officers have been injured in clashes that lasted through the weekend. 

Riot police stand guard in front of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's office during a protest rally by pro-European opposition groups in Kiev on January 17, 2014l. Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/2014 AFP

The protesters, dozens of whom have been arrested, were recently barred from wearing masks and helmets or setting up equipment without permission. Needless to say, they are not listening. In the video below, demonstrators assemble a force-field using Porta Potties:

And a DIY catapult:

President Yanukovych said in a statement, "now, when peaceful actions are turning into mass unrest, accompanied by riots and arson attacks, the use of violence, I am convinced that such phenomena are a threat not only to Kiev but to the whole of Ukraine."

Riot police hold position after night clashing with the opposition demonstrator in the centre of the Ukrainian capital Kiev early on January 20, 2014. Photo: AFP/2014 AFP

On the other side is former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, now a leader among the protesters in Kiev's Independence Square, who has worked to ease tensions. "It is vital that these negotiations bring real results, because they are the only way to get out of the conflict without its escalation," he said in a statement.

The photos coming out of the struggle are phenomenal, and only getting wilder, as one opposition leader told the New York Times, "The siege of the government quarter will only intensify."

A protester prepares to throw a brick as protesters clash with police during an opposition rally on January 19, 2014 in the center of the Ukrainian capital Kiev in a show of defiance against strict new curbs on protests. Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/2014 AFP
Protesters clash with riot police on January 19, 2014 during an opposition rally in the center of the Ukrainian capital Kiev in a show of defiance against strict new curbs on protests. Photo: AFP/2014 AFP
Protesters clash with riot police on January 19, 2014. Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/2014 AFP
A protester stands next to a bus in flames as protesters clash with riot police on January 19, 2014. Photo: AFP/2014 AFP
A bare chested man waves a Ukrainian flag during clashes between the opposition and police in the centre of Kiev on January 20, 2014. Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/2014 AFP
Protesters clash with police on January 19, 2014 during an opposition rally. Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/2014 AFP
A protester sprays fire in the direction of the riot police. Photo: GENYA SAVILOV/2014 AFP
The wreckage of a burnt bus is pictured as riot policemen stand in the back ground after night clashing with the opposition. Photo: AFP/2014 AFP
A protester waves a flag during the clash with police in the center of the Ukrainian capital Kiev on January 20, 2014. Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/2014 AFP