The fighting shattered a truce declared just hours earlier. Just after dawn, young men in ski masks opened a breach in their barricade near a stage on the square, ran across a hundred yards of smoldering debris and surged toward riot police officers who were firing at them with shotguns.
Protesters pushed back the police in a continual racket of gunshots and by around 10 a.m. had recaptured the entire square, but at the cost of creating a scene of mayhem.
The fighting left bodies lined up on a sidewalk, makeshift clinics crammed with the bloody wounded, and sirens and gunfire ringing through the center of the city.
The demonstrators captured at least several dozen policemen, whom they marched, dazed and bloodied, toward the center of the square through a crowd of men who heckled and shoved them.
“There will be many dead today,” Anatoly Volk, 38, one of the demonstrators, said. He was watching stretchers carry dead and wounded men down a stairway slick with mud near the Hotel Ukraina.
Mr. Volk said the protesters had decided to try to retake the square because they believed a truce announced around midnight was a ruse. The young men in ski masks who led the push, he said, believed it was a stalling maneuver by President Viktor F. Yanukovych, to buy time to deploy troops in the capital after discovering that the civilian police had insufficient forces to clear the square.
“A truce means real negotiations,” Mr. Volk said. “They are just delaying to make time to bring in more troops. They didn’t have the forces to storm us last night. So we are expanding our barricades to where they were before. We are restoring what we had.”
In the worst case scenario …