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Ukrainian riot police make attempt to storm barricades in Kiev

January 21, 2014, 7:55 UTC+3 KIEV
Mass media suggest that about a thousand militants are putting up resistance to the police from behind the barricades
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KIEV, January 21, 7:47 /ITAR-TASS/. Servicemen of Ukraine’s Berkut riot police unit made an attempt to storm barricades on Kiev’s Grushevsky Street early morning Tuesday. A group of servicemen advanced towards the improvised barricades made of the frames of burned busses, from behind which the militants taking part in the ‘peaceful actions of protest’ had been throwing flares, smoke boxes, and Molotov cocktail bottles at police cordons.

Several servicemen of the Berkut unit moved to the barricades and started clearing them away. The whole line of servicemen numbering several dozen men started moving behind them but the entire unit had to retreat to the initial positions a few dozen meters away from the barricades minutes later.

Mass media suggest that about a thousand militants are putting up resistance to the police from behind the barricades. They are trying to break through the cordons and to get to the buildings of the Ukrainian government and the Verkhovna Rada for the second day on end.

The police detained a number of protesters who had been throwing flares at them from the colonnade of the Dynamo stadium. To carry out the operation, the servicemen had to get on the building.

Clashes on Grushevsky Street began on Sunday after the participants in the so-self styled ‘people’s assembly’ - called the ‘viche’ - tried to break through to the government quarter and to reach the Rada. They showered the police with Molotov cocktail bottles and stones and burned down two four busses and two trucks and had been put across the street to block the passage.

Afterwards, the militants put up the barricades and even tried to engineer an espringal. The police used flash bang grenades in response.

Forces of law and order have detained 31 most active rioters and have instituted nine criminal cases under provisions of Article 294 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code.

On the background of events taking place on and around Kiev’s Independence Square, known broadly as the Maidan, the faction of the ruling Regions Party in the legislature of the easternmost Lugansk region issued a statement calling the standoff in Kiev “a direct threat to the existence of our state and security of our people.”

The faction has demanded that President Viktor Yanukovich “take tough measures towards restoring order and the rule of law.”

‘Euro-Maidan’, which had started out as a generally peaceful action of nationalists and pro-Western parties against the decision of the Yanukovich Administration to put off the signing of an agreement on association between Ukraine and the EU, grew over into a confrontation with the use of force January 19.

“It pushed the country to the brink of a civil war,” the Regions Party faction said. “Those who describe themselves as peaceful demonstrators and activists came to Grushevsky Street with a precisely specified purpose of using force and rioting up to bloodshed.”

The authors of the statement believe that clashes near the building of the cabinet of ministers “have been instigated and provoked by the radically minded militants of nationalistic organizations seeking to destroy the system of state power and to supplant the incumbent legitimate government.”

“We are confident that criminal cases should be instituted over these offenses, proper investigations should be held, and all the instigators and militants should be held accountable in conformity with the punishments apportioned by law,” the appeal says.

The legislators propose to ban the activities of the far-right ultra-nationalistic Svoboda party and any other nationalistic extremist organizations.

“We appeal to the President of Ukraine as the guarantor of the Constitution to take tough measures towards re-establishing law and order up to the introduction of the state of emergency in Kiev.

“An opportunity to heed the President’s calling and to sit down to the conference table for settling the crisis in the country without victims and/or bloodshed offers the last chance to forestall a civil war in Ukraine,” the legislators say.

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