Open Story: Ukraine crisis as it unfolds

Editor's Note: This story is a collaborative effort of CNN and people in Ukraine, who are experiencing violent anti-government protests.
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  • Violent protests in Kiev, Ukraine, started in November 2013
  • Ukraine President fled the country as a result
  • Russian President deployed troops to Ukraine, causing international outrage

(CNN) -- Days after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, Russia's upper house of parliament gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a unanimous vote to use military intervention in Ukraine. Russia swiftly deployed troops to Crimea, a region in Ukraine with pro-Russian ties.


Before the military invasion, Ukraine had been wracked by violent anti-government protests that left scores dead and dozens more injured. This weekend, residents of Crimea will vote on whether to remain part of Ukraine or join with Russia -- but the referendum is not without controversy.


The unrest dates back to November 2013, when President Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia, a move that sparked mass demonstrations in the country’s capital, Kiev.


What’s behind the protests?


The past few weeks of protesting subsided after President Yanukovych fled the country. As Ukraine started its slow transformation under a new government, President Putin staged a military intervention, causing uproar from Ukranians and leaders from around the world.


Russia's tightening grip around Ukraine's eastern Crimean region is drawing condemnation from Western nations and heightening fears of war.


Bird’s eye view of protests in Kiev


The CNN iReport team is collecting and verifying reactions and snapshots from Ukrainians and Russians as the unrest unfolds. Click through the interactive open story to see some of the best eyewitness photos and video from the protests, dating from November 2013 to the situation that is developing now.


Are you in Ukraine? Share your stories and images with CNN iReport, but only if it is safe to do so.