On Tuesday night, riot police in Kiev started a siege on the three-month-old encampment in Maidan (Independence) Square occupied by European Union–aligned protesters railing against the pro-Russia tilt of President Viktor Yaunkovych. By Wednesday morning, 25 people were confirmed dead, most of them protesters. Hardy photographers captured the burning buildings and bloodied combatants for the world to see. By Thursday evening, after a short-lived truce, the official death toll had risen to 64.
In a calmer moment Wednesday morning, Ruptly — an RT video news service based in Germany — sent a camera-equipped aerial drone up to capture the scene in Maidan Square. You get, essentially, a bird's-eye view of the tents, the burning Trade Unions Building, and the ring of fire the protesters fed to keep the riot police out of the encampment. (Watch above.) Later Wednesday, Ruptly's drone went back up, capturing more footage of the growing crowds — and drawing green police lasers:
The New York Times' David Herszenhorn captured what the protests look like from the ground:
If you're not familiar with Maidan Square, it's a little hard to understand what exactly you're looking at. Here's what the square looked like in more peaceful times, in 2005, as taken from the 12th floor of the Ukraina Hotel:
And here's a map of the square, including the Ukraina Hotel, the occupied City Hall at the tail end of the encamptment, and the partially burned-out Trade Unions Building: