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Poker Under Siege in Kiev, Ukraine

Poker got caught up in the violent events in Kiev during Day 2 of RPT 5th Anniversary Tournament. The last tweet from Russian Poker Tour was sent at 5:05 PM, Feb 18th and ran: "Dear Players! We strongly urge you to refrain from coming to the Khreshchatyk Club until further notice."


The Fifth Anniversary Russian Poker Tour Tournament kicked off on February 17th in what some have argued to be an unwisely chosen location - the Khreshchatyk Club in the very heart of the Ukraine capital, Kiev (RPT has to be conducted in neighboring countries due to Russian legislative restrictions).

In fact, in what was a very difficult decision for the organizers, just one week before the scheduled Day 1, the tournament start date was moved from Feb. 1st to Feb. 17th, on account of the escalating tension and clashes in Kiev between pro-European Union protesters and the police.

Though it seemed for a while that the situation was improving, hopes for a safe and untroubled poker event were dashed yesterday with the latest outburst of violence. Tuesday is now called ‘the nation’s bloodiest day’, with the death toll rising to at least 25 and 250 injured.

Photo: Efrem Lukatsky, AP



With the explosion of violence, the 150 players who had come to the Kreschatyk Club for RPT Day 2 were locked inside the premises and noone was allowed to leave or enter.


PokerNews reported yesterday:

"We are in a very bad situation right now. Not only for the Russian Poker Tour, but for the whole Ukraine", tournament director Oleg Udovenko told PokerNews, confirming that around 150 players are now locked in the Khreschatyk Club, right in the heart of Kiev.

"There is not much we can do now," added Udovenko. "We can just wait and try our best to keep people as calm as possible. Even if the mood in here is not very good. People are trying to keep playing poker. We have shut all doors, and we are not allowing anyone to come in or to leave the club. Luckily, we have still enough water for everyone."

Photo: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

 "We will not go anywhere from here," Vitali Klitschko, opposition leader and former heavyweight boxing champion, told the crowd, speaking from a stage in the square as tents and tires burned around him, releasing huge plumes of smoke. "This is an island of freedom and we will defend it," he said.

The tournament will most likely be postponed or moved to a safer location far from the violent clashes in the city center. Regretfully, the Ukrainian protesters do not have recourse to either postponement or safe havens…


According to the latest news from RPT on the Russian social network VKontakte, the tournament is suspended and all the participants are advised to leave Kiev; the organizers are working out compensation schemes for the registered players.