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Chaos in Kiev: One killed and dozens injured in clashes outside parliament

Ukrainian authorities blamed nationalists for the trouble and said at least 30 people had been detained.
Aug 31st 2015, 11:40 PM 12,577 52

*This article contains images that some people might fight upsetting*

Ukraine Constitution Source: AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 11.35pm

A POLICEMAN WAS killed and dozens injured today in street battles with protesters in Kiev as Ukrainian lawmakers gave their initial backing to controversial legislation granting more autonomy to pro-Kremlin rebels.

It was the worst unrest in the capital since a bloody popular uprising ousted Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovych early last year, an event that set in train the separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.

Ukrainian authorities blamed nationalists for the trouble and said at least 30 people had been detained.

Ukraine Constitution Source: AP/Press Association Images

A loud blast was heard outside parliament and vast clouds of black smoke billowed into the air as demonstrators fired off what security forces said were live grenades.

The violence flared shortly after MPs backed in their first reading the constitutional amendments that critics have branded “un-Ukrainian” for giving the insurgents greater powers in the east.

Riot police in helmets and armed with batons were seen clashing with the protesters.

Some of the injured were bleeding and lying down on the ground in front of the parliament building. Many suffered injuries to their arms and legs. Most wore uniform.

The authorities said a National Guard officer, believed to be a conscript aged 24 or 25, died.

Ukraine Constitution Police officers give a medical aid to a colleague injured after a grenade blast. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov initially said he died from a bullet wound to the heart but later wrote that he was apparently killed by a grenade fragment.

Police said another 90 members of the security forces were injured, while city authorities said medics had identified 56 wounded including 54 servicemen and two journalists.

The interior ministry blamed the nationalist Svoboda party for the unrest and said those detained included a member of its paramilitary unit accused of throwing the grenade.

“More than 30 people have already been detained. More to come,” Avakov said on Facebook, adding that people who threw “several” explosive devices wore T-shirts with the Svoboda logo.

‘Anti-Ukrainian war’

Ukraine Constitution Source: AP/Press Association Images

Avakov said the authorities had confiscated several grenades including an F-1 which Avakov noted had a maximum radius to cause death and injury.

“Investigation and punishment will be unavoidable,” he said, calling the clashes an “anti-Ukrainian war.”

Oksana Blyshchyk, a spokeswoman for Kiev police, said separately that around 100 police were injured and 10 of them were in critical condition.

Protesters also fired at least one smoke grenade that sent up a thick cloud of black smoke outside the building. Tear gas was used by both sides, an AFP correspondent said.

Ukraine Constitution Source: AP/Press Association Images

French journalist Antoine Delaunay wrote on Twitter that he “took a rock” to his face and at least one photographer was lightly injured.

The controversial Western-backed reforms aim to give greater autonomy to the separatist east as part of a February peace deal which called for Kiev to implement decentralisation” by the end of this year.

A total of 265 lawmakers voted in favour of the draft legislation at a stormy session, which saw some MPs try to disrupt the vote, which they condemned as “anti-Ukrainian” and “pro-Vladimir Putin.”

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