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Ukraine ex-minister beaten in fresh Kiev clashes

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-11

Ukraine’s former interior minister and leading opposition figure Yuri Lutsenko was admitted to hospital on Saturday after being hurt in clashes between riot police and protesters outside a Kiev courthouse. Several other people were injured.

In the first clashes since last month, police using tear gas and batons tried to disperse a couple of hundred people protesting against three activists being sentenced to six years in jail, a case seen by demonstrators as politically motivated.

Ukrainian television showed several protesters being carried by stretcher to an ambulance that had been rushed to the scene.

Yuri Lutsenko, a minister in the government of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, was among the injured protesters. Ukrainian opposition news sites published photographs and video images of Lutsenko with his head bandaged and a large patch over his right eye.

Lutsenko's wife Irina said her husband had suffered a concussion and head injuries after being attacked by club-wielding police while he was trying to break up the unfolding violence.

Ruling party lawmaker Yuriy Polyachenko, who visited the hospital, said Lutsenko had been transferred out of intensive care and was "in a stable condition".

About 10 km (6 miles) away, several thousand people have set up camp in central Kiev to protest against President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to abandon a landmark EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with Russia.

Protests began in late November and increased significantly in early December after riot police violently broke up a student demonstration in Kiev's iconic Independence Square.

The latest clash in Kiev drew no immediate response from Yanukovych or his government members.

But they threaten to fuel rallies that began to fizzle out last month when Yanukovych signed a $15-billion economic bailout agreement with Moscow that also slashed the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas imports.

Lutsenko remains a close ally of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. 

The 49-year-old was himself put in prison on contested charges in late 2010 and pardoned by Yanukovych under EU pressure in April 2013.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

Date created : 2014-01-11

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