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About 100 people hurt in clashes in Kiev – prosecutor general

February 18, 2014, 20:11 UTC+3 KIEV
Interior Ministry says it may resort to tough actions, should the riots continue
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© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin

KIEV, February 18. /ITAR-TASS/. About 100 people have been hurt in Tuesday’s clashes in central Kiev, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka cited latest reports.

The health department of the Kiev city administration reported earlier that ambulance crews have given first-aid to 39 protesters, 17 of whom have been taken to hospital with various injuries.

A department source said that 148 ambulance crews, including 48 in the city center, were operating in Kiev.

The doctors have urged the protesters not to interfere with their work.

“The health department is calling on everybody who is staying in the city center not to interfere with the work of the ambulance crews. Please, remember that any minute in delaying medical aid can cost a human life,” the doctors said in their appeal.

In the meantime, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry press service informed that violent rioters had attacked an ambulance which was carrying two injured protesters.

Ukraine has been hit by anti-government protests since the authorities refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union at a summit in Vilnius in November 2013 and opted for closer ties with Russia instead. The protests have often turned into riots.

The Ukrainian authorities adopted tougher laws for public order violations in mid-January, which triggered another wave of protests, with three protesters believed to have been killed, and up to 200 police injured. The laws were later repealed.

Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov resigned on January 28, and the Ukrainian leadership also decided to pardon participants of riots on the condition protesters vacated state and local power institutions they seized within 15 days. The initial reaction of opposition leaders to the amnesty law that entered into force February 2 was defiant and skeptical.

Meanwhile, Kiev’s police reported Tuesday that the building of the city state administration had been seized again by protesters who threw Molotov cocktails.

Earlier, protesters held the building for over 2.5 months, but vacated it on February 16 to observe the amnesty law adopted by the authorities.

The amnesty law, designed in particular to “prevent prosecution and punishment of people in connection with events that took place during peaceful rallies,” envisions a pardon for all people who took part in riots during mass anti-government demonstrations in Ukraine except for those who committed grave crimes.

It introduced a mechanism to release riot participants from criminal prosecution and ensure unhindered operation of state and local power bodies. Protesters had time until February 17 to vacate seized state and local power institutions, unblock Grushevsky Street in downtown Kiev and other streets and squares across the country except those where peaceful protest rallies were being held.

The head of Ukraine’s Security Service, Alexander Yakimenko, and acting Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko on Tuesday called on opposition leaders “to calm protesters, stop confrontation and return to the negotiating table.”

“We warn irresponsible opposition hotheads: the authorities have the power to ensure order. And we, should riots continue, will have to resort to tough actions,” their joint statement said. Yakimenko and Zakharchenko gave protesters time until 18:00 (16:00 GMT) to stop riots.

“In case the riots do not stop, we will have to ensure order by the means the new law allows for,” the statement said.

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