A 27-year-old police officer has been shot dead in Kiev according to the Interior Ministry.
The body of the man was found with a gunshot wound to the head in the Holosiyivo district, said local media reports published on Friday.
It is not known whether the purported death of the police officer, who has not been identified, is linked to the clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police which have engulfed central Kiev this week. At least three protesters are said to have died in the unrest, with hundreds more injured.
There were fresh clashes with police in central Kiev in the early hours of Saturday morning as protesters set light to a huge mound of tires near the Dynamo Kiev Stadium. Fireworks and small explosions could be seen erupting over the wall of fire.
The mood in the Ukrainian capital remained tense overnight with many protesters in the Maidan – Kiev’s Independence Square – carrying large clubs as they walked through the encampment, which is surrounded by barricades blocking major streets.
In pictures: Clashes between police and demonstrators in Kiev, Ukraine
In pictures: Clashes between police and demonstrators in Kiev, Ukraine
Anti-government protesters clash with police on Hrushevskoho Street in Ukraine's capital city on Friday night
Anti-government protesters attempt to take over the Ukrainian House on Sunday night
Protesters and police officers clash during the night of Friday to Saturday. After two months of primarily peaceful anti-government protests in the city center, new laws meant to end the protest movement have sparked violent clashes in recent days
Anti-government protesters clash with policemen in Kiev on Friday night as the protests continue in Ukraine
Anti-government protesters gather around a fire to get warm at a road block in Kiev on 26 January
An anti-government protester prepares to throw a Molotov cocktail during the clashes between protesters and policemen on 24 January
Anti-government protesters hurl Molotov cocktails and burn tires during clashes with police on Hrushevskoho Street near Dynamo stadium on January 24
Protesters confront police in central Kiev on Friday night
Anti-government protesters launches a firework towards police near the Dynamo Stadium in Kiev
Rob Stothard/Getty Images
A protester waves a Ukrainian flag during clashes with police in central Kiev
A protester throws a tire onto a fire in Kiev
Opposition leader and former WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko addresses protesters near the burning barricades between police and protesters in central Kiev
A protester breaks up a mannequin on the roof of the burned truck during clashes with police in central Kiev
A protester throws tires onto a fire during a clash with police in central Kiev
Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise
Protesters use a large slingshot to hurl a Molotov cocktail at police in central Kiev
Burning members of the Ukrainian riot police due to the gasoline bombs hurled by anti-government protestors during the clashes in central Kiev
A demonstrator holds an incendiary device as protesters clash with police in the center of Kiev
Protesters burn tires as they clash with riot police during an anti-government protest in downtown Kiev
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev. Police in Ukraine's capital tore down protester barricades and chased demonstrators away from the site of violent clashes, hours after two protesters died after being shot
A riot police officer escorts a man as a woman with a cross reacts nearby during clashes between police and pro-European protesters in Kiev
Riot policemen arrest a protestor during an anti-government protest in downtown Kiev
An injured man is escorted during clashes between police and pro-European protesters in Kiev
Medical workers help an injured man during anti-government protest in downtown Kiev
Medical personnel transport a man who was injured during clashes with riot police in Kiev
A man reacts after he was injured during a rally held by pro-European protesters in Kiev
An Orthodox priest tries to stop clash protesters the police in the center of Kiev
Ukrainian priests stand between protesters and riot police officers during an anti-government protest in downtown Kiev
An elderly woman walks from police officers as they block a street during unrest in central Kiev
An Ukrainian opposition activist speak to riot-forces standing guard in front of the parliament in Kiev
A protester smokes at the barricade in front of armour-clad security forces blocking access to the Verkhovna Rada parliament in Kiev
Pro-European protester take cover during clashes with riot police in Kiev. Two demonstrators were reported killed in new anti-government unrest in the Ukrainian capital, inflaming protesters who confronted police shouting 'Murderers' and 'Glory to Ukraine!'
Pro-European protesters launch a pyrotechnic pistol towards riot police during clashes in Kiev
A police officer throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with protesters in central Kiev
A pro-European protester lies on the ground during clashes with riot police in Kiev
Demonstrators beat on a burnt vehicle as pro-European integration protesters hold a rally in Kiev
People stand on a barricade during a clashing break of the opposition and the police in Kiev
Protesters tip over a burnt out police bus during an anti-government protest in downtown Kiev
A pro-European protester fires a pneumatic gun during clashes with Ukrainian riot police in Kiev
Protesters wearing headbands reading 'Help' shout slogans during an action entitled 'Impose sanctions - stop the violence' in front of the European Union delegation in Ukraine in Kiev. Participants of the rally urged the European Union to immediately impose personal sanctions for those responsible for the use of force against peaceful protesters and journalists, as well as involved in the adoption of unconstitutional laws in Ukraine that violate fundamental human rights
A pro-European integration protester catches fire during clashes with police in Kiev
A pro-European integration protester sits in a burnt police bus after a rally near government administration buildings in Kiev
A pro-European integration protester uses a slingshot during clashes with police in Kiev
A bare chested man waves a Ukrainian flag during clashes between the opposition and police in the centre of Kiev. Opposition protesters were today locked in a tense standoff with Ukrainian police in Kiev after bloody clashes that wounded over 200 people, as President Viktor Yanukovych called emergency talks to resolve the crisis
A protester sprays fire in the direction of the riot police during clashes in the centre of Kiev. EU foreign ministers deplored violent protests in Kiev, saying the government was at fault for passing a package of repressive laws in an effort to tame pro-EU demonstrations
Pro-European integration protesters carry Molotov cocktails during clashes with police in Kiev. Protesters clashed with riot police in the Ukrainian capital after tough anti-protest legislation, which the political opposition says paves the way for a police state and was rushed through parliament
A protester prays as he holds an open Bible during an anti-government protest in downtown Kiev
Protesters clad in improvised protective gear prepare for a clash with police in central Kiev
Pro-European protesters bang on a metal bin during a rally in Kiev
A clergyman opposes riot police in Kiev during a rally held by pro-European integration demonstrators. Protesters gathered in Independence Square as repressive new laws came into force
Pro-European Union activists sing the national anthem in central Kiev
The Ukrainian President vowed on Friday to make concessions in an apparent attempt to restore calm after the mass anti-government protests, which have been taking place relatively peacefully in Kiev since November, spread across the country.
Viktor Yanukovych attempted to defuse the tension by promising to reshuffle his cabinet, amend tough new anti-protest laws and involve opposition leaders in an ‘anti-crisis’ committee.
“I will do all I can to stop this conflict, to stop this violence and establish stability,” Mr Yanukovych told a meeting of church leaders yesterday, according to his website.
The move came as hundreds of protesters fortified new barricades in the centre of the capital Kiev, which has been engulfed by violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police this week. Three people have been killed and hundreds injured.
Despite offering concessions, to be decided on formally at a special session on parliament on Tuesday, Mr Yanukovych also warned that “all legal methods” would be used against violent protesters if a solution to the standoff is not found.
The concessions offered fall short of demands made by Ukraine’s three major opposition groups, led by world champion boxer–turned-politician Vitali Klitschko which have called for the dismissal of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s government and early elections. There was no immediate response from the opposition groups last night.
The protests in Kiev began in November after Mr Yanukovych, who hails from the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, spurned a political and trade agreement with the EU in favour of closer economic ties with Russia. Though the demonstrations began peacefully as a show of support for a move towards the West, a heavy-handed response from riot police and the passing of sweeping anti-protest laws last week prompted a show of defiance against what many see as a state crackdown on basic freedoms.
“You can either stay at home, or you can come and fight for your future,” 26-year-old Viktor Ordynovych told The Independent. The bank worker from Lviv said he had come to Kiev to fight for the principle of Ukrainian independence and support the anti-corruption message.
Incidents of police brutality have fuelled public anger against authorities, prompting the Interior Ministry to apologise this week for the “unacceptable actions of the people in police uniform”.
A small but active group of protesters claiming to belong to the far-right group known as the ‘Right Sector’ have been blamed for the violent turn the protests took this week. The loose grouping has stated it aims to overthrow Mr Yanukovych’s “regime”. Mr Yanukovych’s government has condemned violent protesters as “terrorists”.
Germany and France, which have condemned the use of violence against protesters, summoned Ukraine's ambassadors yesterday. The US has threatened “consequences” if the government fails to take steps to scale down the confrontation.