Talks to end some of Ukraine’s worst violence in decades broke down overnight with President Yanukovych saying he wanted Kyiv’s protest camp cleared.
Since Tuesday morning at least 20 people have died and more than 500 have been injured in an eruption of violence.
Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko rushed to see the president, emerging with little to offer:
“Right now (Arseny) Yatsenyuk is with the president trying to negotiate and I am going to Maidan to try and fix the problem, to talk to police, to people, talk to protesters to stop activity right now,” he said. “The president has made a proposal – all demonstrators have to go home and stop demonstrating.”
Throughout the night, riot police charged protesters occupying Independence Square known locally as Maidan.
Missiles were hurled at each other – petrol bombs and stones by one side, stun grenades by the other. Several of the dead are said to have died from gunshot wounds.
While activists have called on support from other cities, the authorities have closed off roads and the metro into central Kyiv.