Ukraine Day 1470: LIVE UPDATES BELOW. Nine protesters were detained and 14 officers were injured in a violent protest by nationalist and populist groups at the Ukrainian parliament. One soldier was wounded at the front.
Yesterday’s coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
Tires and demonstrators at the Ukrainian parliament. Photo by Liga net
Tires piled up outside the parliament, protesters clashing with police, violence and blood on the streets — a replay of Maidan, possibly in reverse?
Police detain protester. Photo by Unian
Protesters outside the Ukrainska Rada or parliament clashed with police, and 14 officers were wounded, with 9 demonstrators detained, Liga.net reported.
Parliamentary speaker Andriy Parubiy denied that the conflict began because of his refusal to meet with protesters, he said in a plenary meeting of the Rada. He said no MPs had asked him to meet with the demonstrators. In a speech in parliament, he made an impassioned denunciation (translation by The Interpreter):
“These are vile people who provoked the conflict, who brainwashed people on the street as well. They don’t understand a simple thing: that broken guys are behind that vileness an baseness…Colleagues, we need to return to ourselves not just political views and the wish to “be exposed” but ordinary human qualities. The qualities of decency and responsibility. You won’t come to power like that. In that way, you can only destroy the state. We will not allow that.”
Protesters had also set up a tent encampment near the parliament building from which demonstrators had been seen emerging, brandishing sticks, Unian reported.
But who were these protesters? Some Ukrainian media reports were silent on that question; others provided conflicting accounts.
Saakashvili himself denied any involvement by himself or his party. Saakashvili, who has staged a number of provocative protests in Kiev after being dismissed by Poroshenko was deported to Poland on February 12. Ukraine has stripped him of the citizenship it once granted him.
Automaidan and Road Control activist Andriy Dzyndzya, who is also described as a journalist and in the past fought with Azov battalion, published a video on Facebook in which he claimed the clashes were staged by Yegor Sobolevich, an MP from the nationalist party Samopomich (Self-Help) who wanted to “seize power”.
Another MP from center-right party Samopomich, former battalion commander Semyon Semyonchenko said the protests had come to Kiev from Zakarpatia to demand that Parubiy raise the issue of the resignation of President Petro Poroshenko, Gordonua.com reported.
The tent campers are from another group called Rukh vizvolennya [Liberation Movement] which has called for an end to “the robbing of and treachery against the country,” said Gordonua
Semyonchenko denied that Sobolev was involved and said it was the MP Volodymyr Parasyuk, who was also involved in a brawl outside Slovyansk last year related to a blockade of trade with occupied Donbass.
While it remains still to identify which protest groups used violence, the background to this clash is months of protests by some groups angry at the failure of reforms, accusing President Petro Poroshenko of inaction and corruption.
MP and journalist Sergii Leshchenko, in an article last yeartitled “Defending Ukraine’s Revolution Against Ukraine’s Leaders,” commented:
The Ukrainian authorities are still dependent on aid from the International Monetary Fund, and the US government can still provide invaluable support for democratic change if it links further assistance to passing the law on the creation of an anti-corruption court and changing the electoral law, which is key to clearing politics from conflict of interest issues. These are the slogans that kicked off October’s protests, which brought together anti-corruption activists, parties such as Democratic Alliance and Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces, as well as the nationalist Svoboda and conservative Samopomich parties.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
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