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Kiev appeals court rules against Aidar commander’s arrest after protests

July 03, 1:46 UTC+3 KIEV
Earlier on Saturday, some 100 radicals from the Aidar and Donbass battalions blocked traffic in Kiev’s central street Kreschatic calling for the release of Likholit who was arrested on Friday
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© AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov

KIEV, July 2. /TASS/. Kiev’s Court of Appeal has ruled against the arrest of Valentin Likholit, commander of the notorious Aidar battalion, and ordered to release him on personal guarantees.

"The court made a decision to use personal guarantee of deputies of the parliament as a measure of restriction for defendant Likholit," the judge was quoted by the 112 TV channel as saying.

The court’s session was conducted via a video linkup. Likholit was at the Pechorsky district court as the radicals did not allow the law enforcers to take him out of the building. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko attended the session and met with the defendant in person backing the milder measure for him.

Earlier on Saturday, some 100 radicals from the Aidar and Donbass battalions blocked traffic in Kiev’s central street Kreschatic calling for the release of Likholit who was arrested on Friday. A scuffle also occurred near Kiev’s Pechorsky court between MP Sergei Melnichuk and the protesters who blocked the court. The protesters claimed the deputy sought the arrest of the battalion leader.

On Friday, the court arrested Likholit for two months. In summer 2014, he was commander of the Aidar nationalist battalion in eastern Ukraine’s Lugansk region, and now he is charged with banditry in the zone of combat actions in Donbass. Earlier, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said Likholit and Aidar’s another serviceman Igor Radchenko were charged with several crimes, including kidnapping, threat of using force, carjacking cases.

Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov told TASS on Saturday the arrest of Likholit should become beginning of fight against impunity in Ukraine. Moscow hopes the Ukrainian justice "will rewards according to merit this criminal, and he would not escape responsibility like other military criminals managed," he said.

Aidar was featured in numerous crime reports. Representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine have drawn public attention to its wrongdoings. Aidar and other nationalist units - the Donbass, Dnepropetrovsk and Azov combat groups and Ukraine’s National Guard - receive funding from the Ukrainian budget, Ukrainian tycoons and foreign donors.

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