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19 Feb, 2014 16:00

Violence engulfs regional centers of Ukraine

Violence engulfs regional centers of Ukraine

Rioters have attacked police and government offices throughout Ukraine, setting buildings on fire, scattering documents and smashing furniture. In the western city of Lvov they proclaimed the creation of their own regional authority.

Lvov saw the worst outbreak of violence with several thousand young rioters seizing the regional administration building and storming the Lvov Central Internal Affairs Directorate.

“The Executive Committee of Lvov Regional Council – assumes full responsibility for the fate of the region and citizens,” says the statement published on the official website of the local administration after it was captured. “People’s Rada (parliament) subdue all executive bodies of the region and appeals to all civil servants and citizens to carry out the decisions and orders signed by the Chairman of the Rada,” said the document.

Rioters overturned cars parked in front of the central police headquarters and broke into the regional prosecutor general’s office. Several police stations have also been captured, with an unspecified number of handguns taken by the rioters.

The headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine in Lvov was set ablaze along with several cars parked nearby .

Barricades are being constructed in downtown Lvov, the rioters reportedly copying crowds in Kiev and have begun burning tires on the streets leading to the city center.

Anti-government rioters sack the main Police City Office in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on February 18, 2014. (AFP Photo / Yuriy Dyachyshyn)

The raiders used petrol bombs to seized a police military base, setting fire to one of the barracks. Thirty soldiers have been injured, five of them were taken to hospital, according to local police.

After negotiations, the protesters agreed with the military that troops would leave the base without weapons. The armories have reportedly been sealed.

The official Kiev government has tasked the Security Service of Ukraine to investigate these incidents.

Anti-government rioters destroy a prosecutor's office in Lviv February 19, 2014. (Reuters / Marian Striltsiv)

In Uzhgorod, another city in the west of Ukraine, over a thousand of rioters, mostly students, seized the regional administration building and declared it now “belongs to the people”.

Some 300 rioters have also surrounded the local administration and police headquarters in the western city of Ternopol, the Unian news agency reported.

Protesters smashed windows with bricks at the police department and demanded law enforcement officers abandon the building. When personnel retreated through the back exit, rioters chased them down the street, throwing rocks at police officers.

Anti-government rioters break the door of the regional administration headquarters as they attempt to take over during a rally in the town of Uzhhorod in western Ukraine, February 19, 2014. (Reuters)

A similar scenario was repeated in the western city of Ivano-Frankovsk where police made no attempts to prevents several dozen Right Sector members from occupying the local administration.

Last night a number of offices of opposition parties were attacked in several cities in eastern Ukraine.

In Kharkov, the unofficial capital of the pro-government eastern part of the country, arsonists burnt down the office of the nationalistic Freedom Party, destroying everything inside.

The governor of the Kharkov region commented on the incident saying that “earth is burning under their (nationalists’) feet”.

There have already been a number of arson attacks on cars belonging to opposition activists in Kharkov, according to the local MediaPort news outlet.

Offices of other opposition parties were attacked in other regions with wide pro-government support. Molotov cocktails were thrown into the offices of the Udar opposition party (headed by Viktor Klitschko) in Dnepropetrovsk and Krivoy Rog.

In Odessa the office of the Fatherland Party was destroyed by pro-government activists.

In Poltava the office of the Freedom opposition party was fire bombed too.

Anti-government rioters are seen inside the destroyed prosecutor's office in Lviv February 19, 2014. (Reuters / Marian Striltsiv)

Meanwhile, the authorities of the pro-government southern Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea urged President Viktor Yanukovich to come up with “decisive action and emergency measures” to end riots and restore constitutional order.

“The peaceful Crimea is extremely concerned with the latest surge of violence in central Kiev. The carnage on the capital’s streets proves that the opposition has taken manifold concessions on the part of the government for a show of its weakness, and has used the amnesty law as a break before a new attempt at a forceful power grab,” says the statement of Crimea’s Supreme Council issued on Tuesday.

According to the statement of the Crimea authorities, the general mobilization called for by far-right groups like the Right Sector and the Svoboda Party – is a definite attempt to start a civil war in Ukraine.

Last night the security services of Ukraine delayed a Lvov-Kiev train for several hours, searching it for weapons and other supplies for rioters in the capital. In response to this incident opposition rioters blocked the highway from Kiev’s Borispol international airport to prevent pro-government activists from coming to the capital.