Ukraine protests timeline

Independence Square in Central Kiev Independence Square in Central Kiev has at times resembled a warzone

Violent clashes have once again erupted in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, after hopes were dashed that a new amnesty law might end the confrontation.

The stand-off began three months ago, when President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of a planned association agreement with the European Union.

Pro-Western protesters took to the streets to try and force the president to reverse his decision - and then to try and force him out of office.

Since then, the president has alternated between attempting to forcibly clear the protesters - who Russia says are supported by Western governments - and offering concessions.

The BBC looks back at the key moments leading up to the crisis:

February 2014

18 February: At least 18 people, including seven policemen, are killed in the bloodiest day of clashes yet. Protesters take back control of Kiev's city hall. Riot police encircle Independence Square, where some 25,000 protesters remain.

16 February: Protesters evacuate Kiev city hall after occupying the building since December 1, along with other public buildings in the regions. A day later arrested protesters are granted amnesty.

14 February: All 234 protesters who have been arrested since December are released but charges against them remain.

January 2014

29 January: Parliament passes an amnesty bill promising to drop charges against all those arrested during the unrest, if protesters leave government buildings. The opposition rejects its conditions.

28 January: As pressure mounts, Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigns and parliament annuls the anti-protest law.

24 January: Protestors begin storming regional government offices in Western Ukraine.

22 January: The unrest turns deadly for the first time as two people die from gunshot wounds after clashes with police. The body of a high profile activist, Yuriy Verbytsky, is found the next day in a forest after he was reportedly abducted earlier in the week.

16 January: Ukraine's parliament passes restrictive anti-protest laws, which opponents call "draconian".

December 2013

17 December: After talks with President Viktor Yanukovich, Russian leader Vladimir Putin throws Ukraine an economic lifeline, agreeing to buy $15bn of Ukrainian debt and to reduce the price of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine by about a third.

14 December: Rival pro-government protests are held in Independence Square, but with far fewer numbers. A thin line of riot police separates both sides.

8 December: The largest demonstration yet sees 800,000 people attend a protest in Kiev.

1 December: Protesters occupy Kiev city hall and Independence Square in dramatic style. They turn the square into a tent city.

November 2013

30 November: Police launch their first raid on protesters, arresting 35. Images of injured protesters spread quickly in the media, raising the international profile of the protests.

24 November: Protests gather pace, with 100,000 people attending a demonstration in Kiev. It is the largest protest in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution.

21 November: President Viktor Yanukovych's cabinet announces that they are abandoning an agreement that would strengthen trade ties with the EU, and will instead seek closer co-operation with Russia. Ukrainian MPs also reject a bill that would have allowed jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country. Protests begin that same night, with only several hundred present at first, but already comparisons with the Orange Revolution begin to be made.

President Viktor Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin President Viktor Yanukovych (l) is seen as Russia's man

2010

February: Viktor Yanukovych is declared the winner in presidential election. His main rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, refuses to accept the result, alleging fraud. She was arrested soon afterwards on what she calls politically motivated charges.

2004

December: Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko tops poll in election re-run. Rival candidate Viktor Yanukovych challenges result but resigns as prime minister.

November: The Orange Revolution - an official count claims that pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych has won the presidential election, but Western and other independent observers report widespread vote rigging. Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko launches campaign of mass street protests and civil disobedience, with the colour orange adopted as a symbol by the protesters. The Supreme Court annuls result of poll.

1991

August: Ukrainian parliament declares independence from the USSR following an attempted coup in Moscow. 90% vote for independence in a nationwide referendum in December.

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