The worst violence in Ukraine since it gained independence in 1991 erupted in the center of Kiev on Tuesday. Authorities reported that at least 20 people were killed after clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police prompted security forces to attack an opposition encampment in Independence Square.
The roaring flames from burning tents and barricades, visible on live Internet broadcasts, may destroy the prospect of an early compromise between the Russian-backed government of Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Western opposition.
It's not clear which side started the violence, which came just days after an amnesty deal had lowered tensions in the capital. But blame for the political breakdown lies with Mr. Yanukovych. Having agreed to negotiate with the opposition on a new prime minister and cabinet acceptable to both sides, he stepped back from the talks after the amnesty agreement last week. On Monday, parliamentary deputies from the president's party blocked the opposition's attempt to move reform legislation, including a constitutional change that would reduce the president's powers.