Ukraine: What Everyone Needs To Know by Serhy Yekelchyk:
Street fighting ensued in central Kyiv between January 19 and 25, with riot police using rubber bullets and water cannons, while the protesters armed themselves with cobblestones and Molotov cocktails. On January 22 the first three protesters were shot dead, allegedly by special-forces snipers. This event shocked the nation, as it represented the first time in over half a century that protesters were killed by the governing authorities in Ukraine. Amid calls for a general strike, EuroMaidan activists in the western regions began occupying government buildings.
The so-called titushky contributed greatly to the escalation of violence. They were young men from the provinces, often members of local athletic clubs, hired by the Party of Regions to pose as anti-Maidan protesters. The name refers to one Vadym Titushko, a paid thug from the city of Bila Tserkva, who had been convicted of physically assaulting journalists in 2013, before the EuroMaidan. Although they did not carry firearms, titushky freely employed violence and coordinated their actions with the police. During the winter of 2013–2014, they camped out in a park near the Ukrainian parliament, where several protesters died in clashes. Titushky also roamed the streets beating up protesters both in the capital and in other large cities, such as Kharkiv.