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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ukraine: violent clashes erupted in Kyiv during the Parliament protests left several people dead

Violent clashes in front of Parliament building in Kyiv
(Image: The Guardian)
Violent clashes erupted on Monday, 31 August, in the capital of Ukraine Kyiv during the protests at the Parliament building, where the MPs were voting for the controversial law allowing to amend Ukrainian Constitution.

The law was strongly criticized by many legal experts, politicians and activists as the law that will benefit Russian interests as it is expected to grand the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk the special status within Ukrainian territory and to grant them wide autonomy. Thus, the regions are expected to remain under Ukrainian control, but they would be granted wide autonomy and could affect the decisions and foreign policies of Ukraine.

Supporters of this law though emphasize that it shows readiness of Ukraine to follow the Minsk Agreements and to finally end the active phase of war in Donbas region, and they also add that the amendments to the Constitution that are expected to be made according to the recently supported law will not harm Ukrainian sovereignty and independence.

Ukrainian far-right and nationalistic forces including the Svoboda Party (Freedom Party) and far-right Right Sector organization along with the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko are among those who strongly opposed this controversial law that was passed by the majority of the votes on Monday 31 August.

Violent clashes in front of Parliament building in Kyiv
(Image: The Guardian)
According to the reports those political forces organized the rallies in front of the Parliament building in Kyiv aimed to protest the decision of Parliament and to demand to cancel the so-called decentralization law.

Hundreds of people have gathered for the peaceful protest on Monday, chanting against the decentralization law and amending Ukrainian Constitution, when the situation started to get tense, as more and more enraged protesters started appearing in  the crowd. The protests soon turned violent as the protesters clashed with the security forces and riot police. Protesters have been throwing rocks and sticks to the riot policemen and servicemen, while the security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The clashes took a tragic turn when one of the protesters suddenly threw a grenade into the crowd of the servicemen, fatally injuring and killing right away one National Guard soldier, 24 year old Ihor Derbin, who appeared to be in the epicenter of an explosion.

Two other servicemen, also members of the National Guard riot police, died on Tuesday, 1 September, from their fatal injuries.

According to the reports Monday grenade attack left seven people dead among them three security forces personnel. More than 30 people were wounded immediately at the moment of an explosion, while the Monday clashes left at least 142 people injured, including 132 servicemen and 10 civilians, according to the statements of Ukrainian Interior Ministry and Ministry of Health.

Injured sevicemen during the violent clashes in front of
Parliament in Kyiv
(Image: The Daily Beast)
Monday Parliament's clashes were the most violent clashes Ukrainian capital witnessed since the popular Euromaidan uprising in 2013-2014 and these clashes raised serious issues regarding internal security and stability within Ukraine and a threat of ultra-right forces that seem to be very little controlled by official Kyiv.

Monday clashes also took place one day ahead of the planned announcement of a ceasefire in the war torn Donbas region.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has announced on Tuesday, 1 September, that the soldiers killed in a grenade attack, will be declared the heroes of ATO (anti-terrorist operation, an official name of a war that is ongoing in Eastern Ukraine since the spring 2014). The suspect was already arrested and he appeared to be an ATO fighter in his vacation. An investigation ongoing, as Ukrainian Prosecutor Office claims those responsible for this crime will be held accountable. In addition to that the Prosecutor's Office also claims the Monday attack could have been organized by some criminal groups willing to destabilize situation in the country.

Meanwhile Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk claimed in his speech that those who carried out this attack were even worse that the Russian backed terrorists in the East of Ukraine, as they are attempting to open the second front within the country, and that P.M. expects that those responsible for an attack will be held accountable and will be given the harshest penalties according to Ukrainian Penal Code.