BBC News on February 21, 2014, reported that protesters and police are still locked in a stand-off in Kiev, a day after dozens were killed in violent clashes.

On February 20, EU foreign ministers said in a statement sanctions would be put on some officials over the violence.

The US has warned Kiev that it would follow suit.

February 20 was the bloodiest day since the unrest began in November, with many of the anti-government protesters reportedly killed by police snipers.

In all, 77 people – including policemen – have been killed since the violence first flared up on Tuesday, Ukraine’s health ministry said.

Another 577 were injured.

Protesters had captured 67 police, the interior ministry said. A number of them were later released.

On February 20, the foreign ministers of France, Poland and Germany conducted several hours of discussions with Mr Yanukovych on a “roadmap towards a political solution” before going on to talks with opposition leaders.

They returned for another meeting with Mr Yanukovych in the evening and the talks continued late into the night.

Dozens of activists were injured, some seriously

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Mr Yanukovych had expressed willingness to hold early elections this year.

The snap presidential and parliamentary elections are one of the key demands by Maidan activists and opposition leaders.

Currently, the presidential poll is scheduled for next year.

Also on February 20, the statement from an emergency EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels said “no circumstances can justify the repression we are currently witnessing”.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the “prime responsibility” to get talks between the two sides under way lay with President Yanukovych.

She said ministers had expressed their “dismay” at the latest violence and had agreed to “suspend export licences for equipment for internal repression”.

Implementation of the measures “will be taken forward in light of developments in Ukraine”, she added.

The EU had until now refrained from imposing sanctions, preferring to emphasise dialogue and compromise.

The US state department had already announced visa bans on 20 members of the Ukrainian government but has not provided any names.

Dozens of protesters were killed by security forces in Kiev following the breakdown of a truce the previous day.

Activists and doctors working in protester camps suggested the death toll could be as high as 100 and would rise further.

Assembled crowds shouted “Martyrs!” and “Heroes!”, with some protesters in tears, our correspondent adds.

Witnesses have told the BBC that some of those killed died as a result of single gunshot wounds, typical of sniper fire.

Video footage has emerged apparently showing snipers firing on demonstrators who had been trying to retake their protest camp in Independence Square.

The authorities said one policeman had died, however an activist reported that as many 10 police officers had been killed.

Gunshots pierced the windows of rooms at the Ukraina Hotel, which is serving as the base for all foreign media in Kiev, including the BBC.

MPs assembled for a session of parliament on the afternoon of February 20 voted to condemn the recent violence.

They also called for the use of weapons against protesters to be banned, and for troops and police deployed against them to be withdrawn.

The session was attended by 239 out of 450 MPs, most of them from opposition parties. But there were also dozens from the pro-Presidential Party of Regions.


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