Top officials investigated in protesters crackdown

Published: Sunday | December 15, 2013 Comments 0
Pro-European Union activists shout as they listen to Ukranian opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok, during a rally last Friday. - AP
Pro-European Union activists shout as they listen to Ukranian opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok, during a rally last Friday. - AP

KIEV (AP):

Ukrainian authorities yesterday conceded to one of the demands of weeks-long protests gripping the capital, opening investigations against four top officials and suspending two of them from office over the violent police response to a small demonstration last month.

But the opposition said the move was a half-measure unlikely to get them off the street.

The brutal police raid in the early hours of November 30 galvanised the pro-Western protests sparked by President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to back away from signing a key integration treaty with the European Union, and instead turn towards Russia.

Since that day's violence, protesters have also been demanding Yanukovych's ouster and early elections.

Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka said that the deputy head of the national security council, the head of the Kiev city administration, as well as the then-head of Kiev police and his deputy are being investigated on suspicion of abuse of office in the crackdown on protesters/the suspects under house arrest.

OFFICIALS SUSPENDED

Shortly after Pshonka's announcement, Yanukovych suspended two of the senior officials under investigation, Kiev city head and the deputy head of the national security council, while investigation continues.

But the opposition signalled that the move was only a half-measure, saying more heads need to roll.

Protesters have also demanded that the president fires two of his closest allies, the prime minister and the interior minister, whom they say are responsible for the November 30 crackdown.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of government supporters gathered in the centre of Kiev for a large counter-rally in a square adjacent to the opposition rally yesterday.

The two demonstrations were peaceful but the atmosphere was tense, as rows of riot police and barricades erected by opposition protesters separated the groups.

Some in the pro-government crowd admitted to having been bussed in and paid to participate.

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