Multiple injuries in Kiev as grenade explodes during protest against constitutional law

Monday, August 31, 2015

Demonstrators, who are against a constitutional amendment on decentralization, clash with police outside the parliament building in Kiev, Ukraine, August 31, 2015. © Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

Dozens are feared to have been injured during clashes in front of the parliament in Kiev, the Ukrainian National Guard said. Crowds of protesters came to oppose amendments to the constitution that would provide for decentralization of the country.

There are conflicting reports about the number of casualties near the Ukrainian parliament. Initial reports said that at least five officers were killed in the clashes.

The Ukrainian National Guard has claimed that “about 50” people sustained injuries.

Kiev police chief Alexander Tereshchuk has claimed that some 100 law enforcement officers have been wounded in the blast, according to 112 Ukraine TV channel. He added that the person who threw the combat grenade into a crowd of officers has been detained.

According to Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, the people who threw the combat grenades were wearing T-shirts of the Svoboda political party.

“About 30 people have been arrested. Police have detained the man who threw the combat grenade,” Avakov said on his Facebook post.

Other reports in the Ukrainian media allege that one of the servicemen has died from his injuries.

“A combat grenade has been thrown at the Ukrainian special forces. Some of the servicemen from [Ukraine] National Guard have been seriously injured. Their life is in danger,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Kiev’s Interior Ministry, wrote on his Facebook page.

Tweets from journalists at the scene said supporters of the radical group Right Sector were brutally attacking police officers.

The Svoboda party issued a statement where it put responsibility for the clashes on the Ukrainian government, in particular on Arsen Avakov.

“It was the police who first used force against the protesters, prompting numerous clashes. However, the police failed to take appropriate measures to neutralize the provocateurs. We demand the resignation of the Interior Minister of Ukraine Arsen Avakov, whose criminal inaction led to the tragedy,” the group added.

The demonstrators attacked police with long sticks and threw at least one smoke bomb grenade, Russia’s RIA Novosti and TASS news agencies reported.

The Ukrainian UNIAN news agency also reported that smoke bombs were being thrown along with stones. Police are now trying to stop the demonstrators from storming the parliament building.



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