Police And Protesters Clash Outside Ukraine Parliament

KIEV, Ukraine -- Clashes broke out near the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev on Saturday, after police began removing a camp that was set up outside the government buildings last year to protest corruption.

Riot police on Saturday destroyed a tent camp installed by anti-corruption demonstrators outside Parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday.

As heavy snow fell on the makeshift site, protesters burned tires and scuffles broke out with police, who had moved in to dismantle the camp, which has been there for months.

More than 100 protesters were detained.

Nearly all were later released, but Kiev police reported that about 20 people, including seven police officers, were injured in the confrontation.

Early Saturday morning, police entered the area to investigative another violent incident that had taken place in February, in which several police officers were injured, said Andrey Kryshchenko, the head of the Kiev police.

On Friday, one day before the clash with the police, protesters had begun dismantling the tents by themselves after Parliament seemed to be leaning toward taking action on one of their major demands: creating a national anticorruption court.

On Thursday, Parliament agreed to hear the first reading of legislation that would pave the way for the court.

But the entrance of the police into the camp on Saturday escalated simmering tensions.

After tires were set alight, the police rounded up dozens of the protesters and began demolishing the camp with a tractor.

The National Police said they seized several grenades, the makings of Molotov cocktails and smoke bombs from the site, and shared video of their findings.

But the Kiev Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement saying it had authorized a criminal investigation into the possible excessive use of force by the police during the incident.

Supporters said the injuries to the protesters at the site during Saturday’s clashes were extensive.

“We dragged 13 people to the hospital,” Yehor Sobolev, a member of Parliament and one of the leaders of the protest movement, said when reached by phone.

“One was operated on, four have had their heads stitched up, others have bruises and different smaller injures.”

The protest camp was set up in October 2017 by supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili, the former President of Georgia, who later served as the governor of the Odessa region in Ukraine.

He was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship last year after accusing the Ukrainian government of corruption, becoming a key opposition figure to his onetime ally, President Petro O. Poroshenko, who had appointed him as governor.

Mr. Saakashvili, who is now stateless, was arrested and deported to Poland in February, but has already vowed to return to Ukraine.

On Saturday, he proposed a nationwide rally on March 18 to demand the resignation of Mr. Poroshenko.

Source: The New York Times