Ukrainian police held in check pay with lives

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Special units of the Ukrainian Police for Public Security, the ‘Berkut’, continue to count their own casualties in Kyiv.

The Interior Ministry says at least 10 of the elite crowd control officers have been killed in clashes with opposition protesters since the latest round began on Tuesday, and that around 80 have been wounded and taken to hospital.

Berkut is Ukrainian for ‘golden eagle’.

Thousands of the anti-riot specialists have been deployed to restore government control in Kyiv.

But even the best training has its limits, when facing petrol bombs, flying cobble stones and citizens with firearms, resulting in deaths by shooting, again according to the Interior Ministry, and gunshot wounds, broken bones and cuts.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General warned: “The organisers of mass protests will be held accountable.” He said his office will push for the heaviest possible sentencing of activists who have incited people to take part in clashes.

The Berkut are deeply politicised and loyal to the regime. Video of their brutality against opposition protesters and mere bystanders has been seen around the world.

EU Commissioner Stefan Fuele said Ukraine’s acting prime minister assured him Kyiv “will do everything” to keep the Kalashnikovs Fuele had seen in Berkut hands silent.

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