Ukrainian riot police have moved in on the main Euromaidan protest encampment in Kiev in what is turning out to be a major showdown in the unrest that has seized Ukraine for nearly three weeks.
Click play below to watch aerial live streaming video footage of what could prove a turning point in the nation's civil unrest:
As of 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning Ukraine time, dozens of police officers had moved into the heart of the protest area, lining up in black uniforms, riot gear helmets and bulletproof vests, likely in advance of a crackdown on the protesters occupying Kiev's Independence Square. RT reported that police, helped by Berkut special forces, have already pushed protesters out of one part of Independence Square and that they "began an assault on one of the protesters’ barricades at the House of Trade Unions."
Witnesses told Reuters that a singer on a stage in the center of Independence Square urged police not to carry out their orders and not to harm the protesters.
Some of the protesters held their mobile phones in the air like candles and sang the national anthem.
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The massive Ukrainian street uprising, which has been organized in large part on Twitter and other social media using hashtags like #euromaidan, was sparked on Nov. 21 after President Viktor Yanukovich decline to sign an association agreement with the European Union. The most striking image of the movement so far came Sunday, when a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin was toppled by protesters in Kiev.
The scene is reminiscent of the prelude to the storming of Turkey's Taksim Square earlier this year or the 2011 breakup of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City's Zuccotti Park, and fires could be seen burning on streets near Independence Square as police officers lined up while protesters attempted to resist law enforcement officers' attempts to break up their encampment.