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Ukraine: Berkut riot police to be disbanded

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Ukraine: Berkut riot police to be disbanded


Ukraine’s special riot police force, known as the Berkut, is to be disbanded.

The interim government is taking steps to break up the unit which was involved in the bloody crackdown on protesters in Kyiv that left dozens dead last week.

The 4,000-strong force, first used against demonstrators in November, has been accused of brutality and murder.

“Berkut is gone”, says a post on the internet by Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

“I have signed order No.144… on the abolition of Berkut Special Public Security Police Units.”

He promised to give more details at a briefing later.

The opposition MP was named as interim Interior Minister last weekend after parliament dismissed his predecessor Vitaly Zakharchenko, an ally of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

For Berkut’s accusers, the footage from last week’s repression of Maidan protesters was the clearest evidence yet of long-suspected atrocities.

Linking Yanukovych to the massacre, Ukraine’s parliament called on Tuesday for the international criminal court to investigate him for crimes against humanity.

Ukraine crisis – how it unfolded

24: Thousands protest in Kyiv over government move to shelve EU association agreement.

17: Ukraine secures a 11bn euro bailout from Russia.

19: Up to 200,000 gather in Kyiv to show opposition to newly-enacted anti-protest laws. Clashes between police and protesters.
20: Clashes continue into second day.
22: Kyiv Post reports five killed and 300 injured as clashes intensify.
23: Truce announced which paves the way for arrested protestors to be released.
28: Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigns. Nine of 11 anti-protests laws repealed after vote in parliament. Stand-off continues between police and protesters in Kyiv.

18: 20,000 protestors march to parliament with MPs set to debate a possible new constitution. At least 17 people, including seven policeman, are killed as fresh clashes erupt.
19: Truce agreed.
20: Truce breaks down, fresh clashes see 48-hour death toll rise to at least 77.
21: Peace deal signed, with talk of early elections. Violence spreads to western Ukraine.
22: Protesters freely take control of presidential buildings amid reports Yanukovych has fled. Parliament votes to remove him with fresh elections set for May. Yanukovych appears on TV and denounces a “coup dêtat”. Opposition leader Tymoshenko released from jail.
23: Tymoshenko ally becomes acting president, saying European integration is a priority
25: Parliament votes for ousted Yanukovych to be tried at International Criminal Court.

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