01:03 GMT +318 February 2019
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    Riot police and members of the Ukrainian National Guard block activists and supporters of nationalist parties during a rally against trade with Ukraine's rebel-held east areas in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in Kiev, Ukraine

    Supporters of Donbass Blockade Clash With Police in Kiev

    © REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko
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    Scuffles broke out on Sunday in central Kiev after a mob tried to pitch tents outside the presidential office, demanding a freeze on trade with self-proclaimed Donbass republics, local media reported.

    KIEV (Sputnik) — Veterans of the Ukrainian military operation to reclaim eastern territories cut off railway connection with parts of Lugansk and Donetsk regions last month, calling coal deliveries from these areas illegal. This led to electricity shortages.

    Dozens of Ukrainian nationalists, including two lawmakers from the Self-Reliance party, marched on the presidential administration today to demand an end of what they perceive as coal smuggling, the Hromadske TV reported.

    The angry mob, some of them wearing masks and carrying bats, ran into hundreds of riot police officers who blocked off government buildings. Clashes erupted when protesters hurled a firecracker at the police and sprayed them with a fire extinguisher.

    One police officer and ten protesters were hurt in the scuffles. The officer suffered serious injuries, according to Kiev Police Department chief Andriy Hryshchenko. A medical worker said at least one demonstrator received a head injury.

    Hryshchenko told the local television channel that five people had been detained. Police sources told Sputnik that violence had stopped and calm had returned to central Kiev.

    Head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Alexander Zakharchenko said Thursday that Donbass would cope with the blockade organized by Ukrainian radicals, whereas for Kiev, the consequences would be serious, as in two weeks Kiev "can forget about heating and energy industry."

    President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday condemned the blocking by Ukrainian radicals of coal deliveries from Donbass.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday, after meeting his counterparts from Germany, France and Ukraine in Munich, that the blockade of Donbas was unacceptable. German foreign policy chief Sigmar Gabriel echoed this statement, saying on behalf of the "Normandy Four" ministers that curbs on coal traffic in Ukraine hurt both sides.


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    blockade, riots, Kiev, Ukraine