Opposition leader hurt in clashes at Ukraine court

Former interior minister among 11 injured as police break up Kiev anti-government protest

Former Ukrainian interior minister  Yuri Lutsenko is  treated after being injured during clashes with police in Kiev early this morning. Photograph: EPA/STR

Former Ukrainian interior minister Yuri Lutsenko is treated after being injured during clashes with police in Kiev early this morning. Photograph: EPA/STR

Sat, Jan 11, 2014, 12:44

Ukraine’s former interior minister turned opposition leader has been injured in a scuffle between police and anti-government activists in the nation’s capital.

Yuri Lutsenko, a top organiser of the mass protests that have gripped Kiev for weeks, was injured in the early hours today when he tried to intervene in a confrontation between riot police and opposition activists.

The clashes broke out outside a Kiev court which had set long prison terms for three ultra-nationalist activists convicted of planning to blow up a statue in 2011.

Ukraine’s top human rights official said 11 people were taken to hospital after the clashes.

Mr Lutsenko was a minister in the government of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Mr Lutsenko, pardoned last year by Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, was hit in the head, witnesses said.

The incident is likely to further fuel anger against the president, who has faced protests over his decision to freeze ties with the West and tilt toward Russia.

About 10km away from the court, several thousand people have set up camp in central Kiev to protest against Mr Yanukovich’s decision to abandon a trade agreement with Europe in favour of closer cooperation 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 main square.

Agencies