• Protester sits in burnt-out bus in central Kiev (Photo: Jordi Bernabeu)

Protester shot dead in Ukraine

22.01.14 @ 09:27

  1. By Andrew Rettman
  2. Andrew email

BRUSSELS - A young demonstrator named as Serhiy Nigoyan has died amid fresh violence in Kiev.

Oleg Musiy, the medical services co-ordinator for the “Euromaidan” protest camp, told the Kiev-based news agency, Kyivpost, that Nigoyan had four wounds to the head and other injuries to the neck and chest.

The Ukrainian interior ministry confirmed the fatality.

It is unclear if the wounds were caused by rubber bullets or live ammunition.

The opposition said a second person also died, but Ukrainian authorities have not confirmed the report.

Nigoyan was killed when police early on Wednesday (22 January) attacked barricades in Hrushevsky Street, around the corner from the main Euromaidan camp.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite tweeted that she is "shocked" and condemned the "brutal violence" against demonstrators.

The protests began last November after President Viktor Yanukovych declined to sign an EU association pact.

Hundreds of demonstrators and dozens of policemen were injured in the past two days, prompting both Russian and Ukrainian authorities to warn that the country is on the verge of a national emergency.

"The situation is spinning out of control," Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said on Tuesday.

Yanukovych the same day refused to take part in talks with opposition leaders, however, reducing the propsect of a political solution.

His Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, instead told Russian TV: “If the provocateurs do not stop, then the authorities will have no other choice but to use force under the law to protect our people.”

Meanwhile, a new set of laws threatening demonstrators with up to 15 years in prison came into force on Wednesday.

Mobile phone users in the protest zone received threatening SMS-es saying: “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass riot.”

The events come despite an appeal by EU foreign ministers on Monday for Yanukovych to “reverse” the anti-protest laws and to hold an “inclusive dialogue.”

Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski rejected accusations the ministers' conclusions amount to little.

“I don’t find it weak. We call on Ukraine to rescind, to roll back, the laws they have just passed. We don’t usually tell states to change their laws," he told journalists on Monday.

The ministers also said the EU is still willing to sign the association pact.

For his part, EU commissioner Stefan Fuele is planning to go to Kiev on Friday to hold talks with both sides. It is unclear whether he will meet Yanukovych or visit the Euromaidan, however.