Two senior nationalists charged over Kiev clashes

4th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Ukrainian authorities on Friday charged two senior members of an ultra-nationalist party over violent clashes in Kiev that killed three police this week.

Former agriculture minister Igor Shvayka and Yuriy Syrotyuk, a former lawmaker, were charged with "participating in mass disorder," an interior ministry spokesman told AFP.

The two men are senior representatives of the far-right anti-Russian Svoboda party whose activists are also battling Moscow-backed rebels in the country's east.

If convicted, the two face up to 15 years in prison.

Three police officers died and more than 140 people were wounded after violent clashes broke out outside Ukrainian parliament between nationalists and police on Monday.

Oleg Tyagnybok, the firebrand Svoboda leader who also took part in the riots, was questioned as a witness on Friday.

He has rejected the accusations against his party, claiming that the authorities were the first to use force against demonstrators.

All in all, 16 people were arrested in connection with the clashes, including a member of Svoboda's paramilitary wing suspected of throwing a live grenade.

He faces up to life in prison.

Another two protesters were placed under house arrest.

The clashes broke out as lawmakers gave preliminary backing to controversial constitutional amendments granting greater autonomy to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The controversial legislation is required by a Western-backed peace agreement signed in February.

But the proposed reforms are frowned upon by many Ukrainians who see them as unacceptable concessions to the rebels and Moscow after 16 months of a conflict that has left more than 6,800 dead.


© 2015 AFP

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