2014: The Year in Photos, January - April

As the year comes to a close, it's time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2014. Among the events covered in this essay (the first of a three-part photo summary of the year): Protests that drove Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych from office, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, multiple protests worldwide, Ellen DeGeneres' much-retweeted selfie from the Oscars, the ongoing and brutal situation in war-torn Syria, the opening of the largest solar thermal power-tower system in the world, and a playful rocket battle in Vrontados, Greece. Come back for part 2 tomorrow, and part 3 on Wednesday. The series will total 120 images in all. Warning, some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content. [40 photos total]

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Anti-government protesters clash with police in Independence square, despite an earlier truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Early in 2014, violence flared between police and anti-government protesters, who called for the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. Yanukovych fled the country in February, but deep divisions within Ukraine spurred in part by Russian involvement, led to months of bloody conflict. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) #
A man moves out of the way of a leopard in the northern Indian city of Meerut, India, on February 23, 2014. Forestry officials and police armed with tranquilizer darts searched for the leopard that injured six people in the northern Indian city, creating panic and driving people indoors, police said. (AP Photo) #
Honda rider Paulo Goncalves of Portugal reacts as he sees his motorcycle on fire during the fifth stage of the Dakar Rally between the cities of Chilecito and Tucuman in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina, on January 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) #
Sightseers look at a frozen rock face along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore of Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, near Cornucopia, Wisconsin, on February 14, 2014. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, about 94% of Lake Superior was covered with ice at the time, enabling thousands of people to visit the islands on foot for the first time since 2009. (Reuters/Eric Miller) #
A Mexican marine lifts a bathtub that leads to a tunnel and exits in the city's drainage system at one of the houses of Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman in Culiacan on February 27, 2014. Guzman, who rose from humble origins to become one of the most powerful drug barons in history, was captured in a raid in the beachside resort and fishing center of Mazatlan, 125 miles southeast of Culiacan, just days after escaping from the clutches of Mexican troops through the tunnel and sewers. (Reuters/Daniel Becerril) #
A woman carries her daughter in a nearby field as Mount Sinabung spews pyroclastic gas and ash in North Sumatra, on January 4, 2014. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images) #
Residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, queuing to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria, on January 31, 2014. At the time, a United Nations official called on warring sides in Syria to allow aid workers to resume distribution of food and medicine in a besieged Palestinian district of Damascus, devastated by Syria's 3-year-old conflict. (AP Photo/UNRWA) #
A man lies dead at a checkpoint wearing lucky charms around his waist following a shootout with Congolese peacekeepers, in Bangui, Central African Republic, on December 20, 2013. Three bodies lay baking in the sun at the checkpoint after being shot by Congolese peacekeepers, who said the men had attacked them. After a period of relative calm, violence flared anew in the Central African Republic, with angry demonstrations against Chadian peacekeepers, shootouts at checkpoints, and the destruction of a mosque. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
Thousands of Bluebells bloom, carpeting a forest near Halle, south of Brussels, Belgium, on April 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe) #
Health officers in full protective gear wait to cross a road near a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong on January 28, 2014. Hong Kong began culling 20,000 chickens and suspended imports of fresh poultry from mainland China for 21 days on Tuesday after the discovery of the H7N9 bird flu virus in a batch of live chicken from the southern province of Guangdong. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu) #
Men hold up a baby saved from under rubble, who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus on January 7, 2014. The child, 27-day-old Rateb Malis, was later reunited with his father and sisters. (Reuters/Bassam Khabieh) #
Jewish bride Rivka Hannah (Hofman) looks at her groom Aharon Krois from behind a curtain during the Mitzvah Tans dance ritual following their wedding in an ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem on February 18, 2014. During the Mitzvah Tans dance ritual the bride will dance with members of the community, family and with her groom at the end of the wedding ceremony. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images) #
A priest holds a cross and shield during clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police in central Kiev, Ukraine, on February 20, 2014. Ukraine's brittle truce shattered on February 20 in fierce clashes between baton-wielding protesters and riot police that claimed dozens of lives just as EU envoys were holding crisis talks with the embattled president. Bodies of anti-government demonstrators lay amid smouldering debris after masked protesters hurling Molotov cocktails and stones forced gun-toting police from Kiev's iconic Independence Square. (Sergey Gapon/AFP/Getty Images) #
Riot police stand guard opposite a roadblock put up by anti-government protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, on January 28, 2014. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images) #
A protester wears a gas mask during street violence in Kiev, Ukraine, on January 23, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili) #
Four out of five Olympic rings are seen lit up during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 7, 2014. Photographer David Gray: "This image is a great example of the cliche 'always expect the unexpected'. Two days before, at the Olympic opening ceremony rehearsal, I had seen that the Olympic rings were supposed to open from a small, flower-shaped ball and then explode in flash of extreme brightness. The massive changes in light required a quick estimation as to how to adjust the exposure, so every photographer was anxious, knowing what was supposed to come next. I had just reduced my ISO and increased my shutter speed when I noticed the top-right ring was not forming like the others. So I took a few photographs, still anticipating the next stage. But no. Nothing. The incomplete Olympic symbol just hung there before disappearing completely. Did I manage to correctly adjust the camera settings for the unpredicted dull Olympic ring? Thankfully, you see the answer before you. Needless to say, it was the talking point of the opening ceremony, and became one of the most memorable images of the Sochi Olympic Games". (Reuters/David Gray) #
Estonia's Grete Gaim, wearing colored contact lenses, after crossing the finish line during the women's biathlon 7.5km sprint event in Rosa Khutor, on February 9, 2014. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Kelly Clark of the United States trains for the women's snowboard halfpipe competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, on February 8, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) #
Silver medalist Chloe Dufour-Lapointe of Canada (left) and her sister, gold medalist Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada hold hands during the flower ceremony following the Ladies' Moguls Final 3 at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, on February 8, 2014. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) #
A selfie released by Ellen DeGeneres shows actors, front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyong'o Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o and Angelina Jolie as they pose for portrait on a cell phone during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles. The image, distributed on Twitter, quickly broke the record for 'most-re-tweeted', and currently has been re-tweeted more than 3.3 million times. (AP Photo/Ellen DeGeneres) #
An anti-government activist is arrested by national police during a protest against Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro government in Caracas on March 13, 2014. More than 28 people were killed and 350 injured in anti-government protests rocking Venezuela, the country's top prosecutor said, lamenting an atmosphere of "violence and chaos". (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images) #
Amazon Chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos samples cooked cockroach at the 110th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, on March 15, 2014. The club, which promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space featured catering by chef and exotic creator Gene Rurka. Chef Rurka prepared a variety of dishes featuring an array of insects, wildlife, animal body parts and invasive species. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly) #
An aerial photo taken March 24, 2014 shows a massive mudslide that killed at least 43 people, near Oso, Washington. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) #
Local women watch armed men, believed to be Russian soldiers, assemble near a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoe, Ukraine, on March 5, 2014. (Reuters/Thomas Peter) #
A patient being treated for multiple gunshot wounds to the face, chest and throat sits in a wheelchair in the Malakal teaching hospital in South Sudan on February 5, 2014. Recent fighting in the country has seen waves of brutal revenge attacks, as fighters and ethnic militia use the violence to loot and settle old scores, with the United Nations and rights workers reporting that horrific atrocities have been committed by both sides. (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images) #
She Ping, a 34 year-old beekeeper, covered with a swarm of bees on a small hill in southwest China's Chongqing municipality on April 9, 2014. Ping released more than 460,000 bees, using queen bees to attract them to his body, and made himself a suit of bees that weighed 45.65kg (100 pounds) within 40 minutes. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Michael Phelps warms up prior to a 50-meter freestyle preliminary heat at the Arena Grand Prix swim event in Mesa, Arizona, on April 25, 2014. It is Phelps' second competitive event after a nearly two-year retirement. (AP Photo/Matt York) #
A young woman, held after she was wounded during clashes between riot police and protestors after the funeral of Berkin Elvan in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 12, 2014. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at protestors in the capital, while in Istanbul, crowds shouting anti-government slogans lit a huge fire as they made their way to a cemetery for Elvan's burial. A 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during last year's anti-government protests, Elvan's story became a symbol for many Turks of the heavy-handed police tactics against mass anti-government demonstrators in June, a major challenge to Erdogan's 11-year-rule. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images) #
South Korean coast guard officers and rescue team members try to rescue passengers from the ferry Sewol on April 16, 2014. The ferry sank with 476 people aboard, mostly secondary school students. 295 died as the Sewol sank, leading to widespread anger and criticism of the actions of the crew, captain, owners, and government regulators. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Hyung Min-woo) #
A man offers prayers before the sea for victims of the Sewol ferry at Jindo harbor, in South Korea, on April 25, 2014. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
Dr. Sulamita Chaibub assists Djalma Antonio Jardim who has a rare inherited skin disease known as xeroderma pigmentosum, or "XP" at the Hospital Geral de Goias in Goiania, Goias state, Brazil, on April 9, 2014. "I was always exposed to the sun, working, planting and harvesting rice and caring for the cows," said Jardim. "As the years passed my condition got worse." (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres) #
Gloria Lincoln-Thompson carries her 9mm Smith & Wesson pistol in her waistband during a rally in support of the Michigan Open Carry gun law in Romulus, Michigan, on April 27, 2014. (Reuters/Rebecca Cook) #
An aerial view of a solar receiver and boiler atop a tower at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS) in the Mojave Desert in California near Primm, Nevada, on February 20, 2014. The largest solar thermal power-tower system in the world, owned by NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy, opened in January in the Ivanpah Dry Lake and uses 347,000 computer-controlled mirrors to focus sunlight onto boilers on top of three 459-foot towers, where water is heated to produce steam to power turbines providing power to more than 140,000 California homes. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images) #
An explosion is seen during a car bomb attack at a rally by militant group, Asaib Ahl Haq (League of the Righteous), to introduce its candidates for elections at a soccer stadium in Baghdad, Iraq, in this April 25, 2014 photo. Photographer Thaier al-Sudani: "After I was done taking pictures and trying to reach our driver's vehicle to return to the office a powerful blast hit an exit gate. We tried to find a place to hide because we were expecting a secondary explosion and at the same time we were keen to keep documenting the incident. Screams of the wounded, black smoke and bodies surrounded us, while security forces and militia members were shooting in the air to disperse the crowd. I tried to take cover behind anything close by. Along with Reuters cameraman Mahdi Talaat we could only hit the ground and film the event that was taking place in front of us. Then a minibus that was advancing towards the site caught our attention. The car was only a few meters away from our position and heading towards a gate when it blew up. The blazing fire, smoke and the blast's shockwave along with shrapnel raining down on us and the wailing of the wounded made us believe that we were witnessing judgment day. This incident has had a great impact on myself and resulted in raising my awareness and developing a great internal fear of street gatherings, protests and celebrations. Images of the incident are still fresh in my mind and they keep replaying in my head every time I see a large gathering of people and it even haunts me in my sleep at times". (Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani) #
Afghan National Army soldiers prepare to participate in a military exercise on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini) #
An Afghan National Army soldier looks out from a rocky overlook as soldiers with the U.S. Army's 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division patrol below on March 31, 2014 near Pul-e Alam, Afghanistan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #
Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry stands with his prosthetic hand over his heart, wearing his Medal of Honor during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington on April 2, 2014, during a ceremony to honor him and other recipients of the Medal of Honor from Washington state. Petry lost his hand in 2008 when an enemy grenade he was throwing away from fellow soldiers detonated while in combat in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) #
This picture provided by ISNA, a semi-official news agency, taken on April 15, 2014 shows Maryam Hosseinzadeh, right, and her husband Abdolghani, left, removing the noose from the neck of blindfolded Bilal who was convicted of murdering their son Abdollah in the northern city of Nour, Iran. Bilal who was convicted of killing Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, was pardoned by the victim's family moments before being executed. (AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi) #
Homemade rockets streak through the sky above Vrontados, Greece, on April 19, 2014. Two rival parishes of Vrontados village fire thousands of rockets every Easter Saturday aiming at the opposing church's bell tower in a centuries-old tradition. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan refugee girl Nazmina Bibi, 7, poses for a picture, while playing with other children in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, on January 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #

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