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Minsk: Lawmakers in Ukraine’s Lviv region declared independence from President Viktor Yanukovych’s government after backers evicted the appointed governor and seized the security service’s headquarters overnight in support of protests in the capital Kiev.

Lviv’s parliament formed an executive committee with department heads in governor Oleh Salo’s administration that will take over the functions of the regional government, Oksana Dmetryv, a spokeswoman for Speaker Petro Kolodiy, said on Wednesday by phone from Lviv, the regional capital. The region of Lviv, bordering Poland, has a population of 2.5 million.

Tuesday’s attempt by the opposition to march on the parliament in Kiev triggered the bloodiest clashes in the three- month standoff, with at least 25 dead. Thousands of protesters seeking the ouster of Yanukovych, who’s backed by Russia, defied threats by security service and retreated to Independence Square, where they’ve been entrenched since 21 November. The violence has spread throughout western Ukraine.

We may be witnessing the first hour of a civil war, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told lawmakers in Warsaw on Wednesday. If people are dying and being injured during protests, it’s the authorities who are responsible. There are no doubts about that in Kiev.

The main task of Lviv’s new executive committee will be to maintain public services and communications, install and enforce public order, and support the protesters in Kiev, Kolodiy said in a statement on the parliament’s website. Protesters took over the governor’s office and won’t let him back in, according to Dmetryv, Kolodiy’s spokeswoman.

Hundreds of protesters from Lviv arrived in Kiev by car overnight to help defend Independence Square, skirting road blocks constructed by the interior ministry to limit access to the city of 3 million people.

They had cordons around the city, but we kind of foxed around them, said Volodomyr, a Lviv volunteer who would only give his first name, said in an interview inside the protest camp today. We will break Yanukovych’s spine. BLOOMBERG

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