Thursday 25 December 2014

Opposition leader hurt in clashes

Published 11/01/2014 | 11:07

Riot police officers are surrounded by pro-European Union activists near a police station in Kiev (AP)
Riot police officers are surrounded by pro-European Union activists near a police station in Kiev (AP)

Ukraine's ex-interior minister turned opposition leader has been injured in a scuffle between police and anti-government activists in the nation's capital.

Yuri Lutsenko, a top organiser of the mass protests that have gripped Kiev for weeks, was injured in the early hours today when he tried to intervene in a confrontation between riot police and opposition activists.

The clashes erupted outside a Kiev court had set long prison terms for three ultra-nationalist activists convicted of planning to blow up a statue in 2011.

Ukraine's top human rights official said 11 people were taken to hospital after the clashes.

The incident is likely to further fuel anger against president Viktor Yanukovych, who has faced protests over his decision to freeze ties with the West and tilt toward Russia.

The prosecutor general's office said it had launched a probe into allegations of abuse of authority by riot police officers.

The interior ministry said the scuffle erupted when demonstrators upset over the verdict tried to block the passage of a prison truck carrying the convicts. About 20 police officers were injured in the clashes, the ministry said.

Many of the protesters are Ukrainian nationalists angry about the president's tilt toward the country's powerful neighbor.

The protests on Kiev's main square, which were further fuelled by a violent police crackdown on demonstrators, peaked at hundreds of thousands last month.

Press Association

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