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February 19th, 2014
09:44 AM ET

After 25 Die, Protesters Prepare to Stand Their Ground in Ukraine

They've given up their ground before - voluntarily, as a political concession. But that seems to be over.

After the deaths of 25 people in clashes a day earlier, Ukrainian protesters are prepared to stand and fight again Wednesday.

Police want to clear them out of central Kiev. Some of them died trying to stay put Tuesday - using projectiles and burning barricades to keep security forces at bay at Kiev's Maidan, or Independence Square.

It was the deadliest day in the months-long standoff between the government and opposition leaders.

Thousands of demonstrators have packed Independence Square since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia.

The unrest intensified after an anti-protest law went into effect. Throngs of demonstrators took to the streets to protest the law.

Police and protesters were among Tuesday's dead. A journalist and a government employee died, too.

More than 240 others were hospitalized, Ukraine's health ministry said.

Overnight, demonstrators stocked up, passing stones hand to hand, filling Molotov cocktails and stoking flaming barricades with wood and tires.

They prepared a makeshift compressed-air cannon to catapult the projectiles into police ranks.

Hundreds of others came out to give moral support to those holding the square and to add their numbers to the throng wanting to keep the opposition movement alive.

Corporate lawyer and iReporter Volodymyr Solohub was one of them. Whenever police threaten to clear the Maidan he goes there.

Tuesday, he watched as protesters rushed injured people from the front lines to medics.

"Some of them had broken hands, and blood was flowing down their faces," he said Wednesday.

Barrages of stun grenades shattered the air around him through the night.

"When it goes off, the whole area vibrates," he said. But the barricades held, and it made him happy.

When the sun rose Wednesday, smoke was still rising from them into the sky.

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