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Ukraine president announces day of mourning for rioting victims

February 20, 2014, 1:36 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, February 20, /ITAR-TASS/. - A day of mourning for victims of mass riots in the country will be observed in Ukraine on Thursday.Flags will fly at half-mast as a sign of mourning, entertainment events and sports competitions will be canceled, television and radio programs will be changed in accordance with a decree by President Viktor Yanukovich.

The president expressed condolences to the next-of-kin of the people killed in the conflict. “In know that words don’t help in mischief. I understand what an awful tragedy has befallen you, but I want that you feel my support and my sincere sorrow,” the president said.

Already 800 protesters and law enforcement officers have been injured in Ukraine, including 392 law enforcement officers. A total of 350 policemen were hospitalized, 83 of them with gunshot wounds. The number of hospitalized protesters has grown to 263. People are hospitalized with different injuries, with gunshot wounds and burns. There are 86 staffers of law enforcement agencies, six reporters, a parliamentarian, four children and a Russian national among those hospitalized.

A total of 26 people have been killed, including 10 policemen.

The president accused the opposition of an escalation of violence, saying the opposition leaders had “stepped over the line when calling people to arms”. “Criminals must go to trial which will determine the punishment. This is not my fancy, this is my duty as guarantor of the Constitution - to ensure peace in the country, peace of its citizens and justice for all,” Yanukovich said in an appeal to fellow countrymen.

The opposition said they had not called people to arms. “We have never called people to arms, we don’t do and will not do this. This is our fundamental position. The death of each person is a personal tragedy for each of us,” opposition leaders Arseny Yatsenyuk (Batkivshchina Party), Vitali Klitshko (UDAR Party) and Oleg Tyagnibok (Svoboda Party) said, accusing the president of “ignoring for two months demands of protesters on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (the Independence Square).

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