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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Day 1470: February 27, 2018

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Protesters Clash with Police; 9 Detained, 14 Officers Injured; 1 Ukrainian Soldier Wounded on Front Line

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?

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2018-03-01 21:42:30

Police detain protester. Photo by Unian

Not quite, as this small group of protesters began trying to burn tires immediately, were stopped by police, then began hurling objects at them. Most of the time, the original Maidan protesters of 2013-2014 had not used violence of that nature, and only rarely when they themselves were attacked.

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." 


Eyewitnesses said protesters threw smoke bombs and plastic bottles at police, and one Molotov cocktail. There were also reports of some improvised explosive that detonated. Anton Gerashchenko, an MP from the Popular Front said two national guardsmen were among those injured.

The Kiev police press service said police had various degrees of injuries -- broken jaws, noses, and collarbones as well as numerous bruises. That sounds like a level of violence not typical of even extreme Kiev demonstrators. Police have opened a criminal case on charges of theat or assault of law-enforcers.


Vice speaker of parliament Irina Gerashchenko said she had reports that MPs were among those who attacked police.

Meanwhile MP Volodymyr Parasyuk claimed police beat the demonstrators.

Parasyuk is a prominent leader of the EuroMaidan protests and former fighter in the Dnipro Battalion, currently an MP in the parliamentary Ukrop faction

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. 

Gordonua.com reported that the protest was organized by members of the Rukh novikh sil (New Forces Movement) whose leader is former Odessa governor and former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili.

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.


Liga.net also recalled clashes February 12 after former Odessa mayor Gennady Trukhanov was apprehended and street thugs known as titushki -- as on Maidan -- were described by journalists. One law enforcer suffered an injury from a firearm.

On the front line, in the previous reporting period, there were five attacks from Russia-backed forces, including on the Lugansk line with 120-mm at Troitskoye and 120-mm mortars near Peski, Liga.net reported.. Lebedinskoye wa also attacked as was Kamenki. Three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded.

In its evening dispatch, the ATO [still known as the Anti-Terrorist Operation] reported attacks by Russia-backed forces on the Lugansk line at the Svetlodarsk Buldge from mortars, grenade-launchers, anti-aircraft sytsems and heavy machine guns, with more thsn 200 mortars released. Near Luganskoye and Troitskoye, 120-mm mortars were used and near Novoaleksandrovka, militants fired on Ukrainian positions with 82-mm mortars and grenade-launchers.

In the evening, militants fired 82-mm and 120-mm mortars on Luganskoye; the extent of damages is not yet known

There were no attacks on the Donetsk line, but 7 attacks in the previous period. One Ukrainian soldier wounded.

There were reports that Russia-backed forces were preventing medical personnel from traveling outside their controlled areas, Unian said. There have also been reports of a shortage of pediatricians.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

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