Police say protesters provoked violence (VIDEO)

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Nov. 30, 2013, 12:22 p.m. | Ukraine Politics — by Katya Gorchinskaya, Mariia Shamota

Clean-up takes place today after the 4 a.m. police raid that violently dispersed 400 EuroMaidan protesters on Independence Square in Kyiv.
© Kostyantyn Chernichkin

Katya Gorchinskaya

Katya Gorchinskaya has been the Kyiv Post's deputy chief editor since 2009 and is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @kgorchinskaya.

Mariia Shamota

Ukraine's Interior Ministry, which runs the nation's police force, blamed protesters for provoking a violent police response to clear Independence Square of about 400 EuroMaidan demonstrators. However, video clearly shows that the use of force was excessive and indiscriminate in several cases.

“The actions of representatives of Berkut (special unit) started after the protesters started to resiststhe police, throwing rubbish at them, as well as glass, bottles of water and sticks set on fire,” the Interior Ministry said in its statement.

The ministry said that 35 protesters were detained at night as a result and are accused of hooliganism and resisting the police. They were released in the morning after paperwork against them was finished.

Hundreds of special police officers attacked peaceful demonstrators on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in the early hours of the morning on Nov. 30. Videos, however, present clear evidence of use of excessive and needless force by armed police officers in full riot gear.

Dozens of protestors were beaten and taken to hospitals for treatment of injuries. At least 32 people filed official reports of police violence, the Interior Ministry said.

“Regarding all appeals of citizens about receiving injuries during the conflict that we received from citizens, they will all be officially checked,” the police statement said.

The Interior Ministry also said that they received a complaint from the municipal street maintenance office that protesters were not allowing the municipal workers to perform their duties on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, where the Christmas tree is supposed to be set up. The office complained that protesters continued to be “aggressive” and “would not allow the maintenance vehicles to pass” despite the fact that strike organizers urged people to leave Maidan.

“The municipal workers requsted the capital's police to ensure free entry of their vehicles to Maidan Nezalezhnosti,” the police statement said.

On Nov. 29 the Prosecutor General said at a briefing in Kharkiv that “there will be no dispersals of peaceful demonstrations.”

Maidan 2.0, a civic organization, reported on Nov. 29 that the police units who broke up demonstrations were brought into Kyiv from Perevalne and Kizil-Tashi town in Crimea because the authorities were afraid that the the Kyiv units would not attack their own citizens.

Oleh Tiahnybok, leader of Svoboda, also reported on his Facebook page that some units were bused in from Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. The police denied busing in any special units from Crimea.

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