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Violent protests in Kiev bring casualties

February 18, 2014, 21:52 UTC+3 KIEV
Media report of at least eight people dead
1 pages in this article
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© ITAR-TASS/Yevgeny Maloletka
© EPA/IGOR KOVALENKO
© EPA/ANDREW KRAVCHENKO
© EPA/ALEXEY FURMAN
© ITAR-TASS/Yevgeny Maloletka
© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin
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© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin
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KIEV, February 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Three policemen were killed in clashes with rioters in central Kiev, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

As many as 135 law enforcers were taken to hospital, thirty-five of them are in grave condition.

“As many as 157 policemen and interior troops servicemen sought medical help,” the ministry said in a release posted on its website.

Meanwhile, the UNIAN agency reported deaths of eight people, also citing the Ukrainian interior ministry.

According to the Kiev city administration, as many as 71 people sought medical help by Tuesday evening, of whom 59 were taken to hospital.

Also on Tuesday, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said that about 100 people had been hurt in upheavals in Kiev.

Earlier, Georgian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Ukleb told the Imedi television company that a Georgian national has been killed in clashes in the Ukrainian capital city Kiev.

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 The laws were later repealed.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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