Tear gas, truncheons, and black smoke. After months of peaceful protests, the streets of Kiev descended into violence this week as police and demonstrators clashed. The chaos followed closely on the heels of the government’s passage of a raft of repressive new laws criminalizing the demonstrations. Ukrainians, worried about their country’s authoritarian turn under President Viktor Yanukovych, did not yield, and the protests that were once confined to the capital’s Maidan are spreading across the country. Fears are now rising that this country that once appeared to be on the cusp of joining the European Union could become Europe’s newest dictatorship.
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