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Ukraine: detainees freed after pro-Russian protesters storm police HQ in Odessa


Ukraine: detainees freed after pro-Russian protesters storm police HQ in Odessa

In Ukraine hundreds of pro-Russian protesters have stormed a police station in Odessa, forcing the release of 30 fellow activists detained after Friday’s fatal violence.

“Russians won’t abandon their own”, they chanted. They smashed windows and broke down the gate to the compound.

It is thought police freed the detainees in a bid to calm the crowd.

Some 170 people were arrested after more than 40 were killed in a fire and street clashes between rival supporters of Russian and Ukrainian authorities.

The interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, visiting the southern port, has accused Russia of orchestrating the violence.

“It’s a tragedy not just for Odessa but for the whole of Ukraine when dozens of people fell victim of well-planned provocation,” Yatsenyuk said.

He also criticised the city’s police, suggesting they were more interested in the fruits of corruption than maintaining order. Had they done their job, he said, “these terrorist organisations would have been foiled”.

Russia has accused Kyiv of engineering Friday’s violence – the most deadly since former President Yanukovych was forced to flee in March.

There were conflicting reports over who set the trades union building on fire – but many of those killed were opposed to the Kyiv authorities.

The deteriorating situation in Ukraine raises security concerns ahead of the upcoming presidential election, due to take place on May 25.

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