KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Some people were hit by bricks or sprayed with shrapnel from stun grenades. Others were burned or struck by bullets – some rubber, some real.
A day and night of pitched battles in downtown Kiev between protesters and police left at least 26 dead and hundreds injured in the Ukrainian capital. Many protesters, terrified that they would be taken straight from the hospital to a police station, sought medical help at a nearby monastery, where operating tables stand near the altar.
Here’s a look at what caused the deaths and injuries on Tuesday, the most deadly day in three months of anti-government protests.
NUMBER OF CASUALTIES
The Health Ministry said Wednesday that 16 protesters and 10 police had died, most of them from bullet wounds. In addition, 425 people had sought medical assistance, 277 of whom were hospitalized, including 86 police officers and six journalists, the ministry said in a statement on its website.
The opposition argued that the number of injured protesters was higher. The coordinator for the opposition’s medical response team, Oleh Musiy, said 567 people had sought medical attention.
TYPE OF WOUNDS
Andrei Guk, who runs a medical center in Mikhailovsky Cathedral, said most of the protesters he has treated had shrapnel wounds to the face, arms and legs caused by stun grenades. Musiy also reported seeing many shrapnel wounds.
One of Guk’s patients on Wednesday was 45-year-old Anatoly Zarembo, who lost his right eye after one of the grenades exploded close to him.
“I am a victim of the war between (President Viktor) Yanukovych and his own people,” Zarembo said.
Guk said he also has treated many protesters for burns.
At hospital No. 17 in downtown Kiev, doctors said they have seen many different kinds of wounds in the past 24 hours.
“There are injuries caused by shrapnel, firearms, bullets and rubber bullets, shotgun pellets, plastic bullets, and there also was one knife wound,” said Nikolai Dyomin, the hospital’s chief doctor.
George Sayevich, a Ukrainian-American being treated at the hospital, said he was with a group of protesters trying to get to the parliament building. They tried to get over a fence or through a narrow gate.
“Everybody tried to push in through there, and that didn’t work and I just got clubbed all over: on the head, broke my arm in two places,” said Sayevich, who is from Silver Spring, Maryland.
“Finally I fell on the ground, and rule is you cannot hit the guy on the ground. … It is against the rule of something, may be even the United Nations. And they just kept hitting me and hitting me.”
HOSPITAL IN A CHURCH
Afraid of being taken straight from their hospital beds to a jail cell, demonstrators set up a makeshift hospital in the powder blue Mikhailovsky Cathedral, just a short walk from the center of the protests.
Oleg Goren, a 21-year-old student who said he was injured by a grenade that left him with shrapnel on the right side of his face and in his arm and leg, was on the operating table on Wednesday.
“I’m afraid that instead of medical care I’d end up in jail,” he said. “They took my injured friend straight from a hospital to the police, and I can’t get in touch with him.”
Guk, the doctor, said he encouraged the most seriously wounded people to go to a hospital, but that they often refused to do so.
“We give them emergency assistance on the spot,” he said. “But then people are afraid to go to the hospital because the police and prison are already waiting for them there.”
POLICE SIDE OF THE STORY
Police said that many of the officers who were hospitalized suffered wounds from live ammunition, which they blamed on radical demonstrators bringing firearms into the fray. They insisted that the police carried no live ammunition and used only rubber bullets or tear gas to disperse the crowd.
“Considering the character of civilian injuries … as well as the character of the weapons that were seized (by the police), we can assume that these injuries could have been inflicted by the most aggressive protesters,” said a statement on the Interior Ministry’s website.
The website also showed pistols and revolvers in plastic bags, which police claimed they had confiscated from the site of the protest.
Mills reported from Moscow. Sasha Merkushev contributed reporting from Kiev.