Kyiv, 12 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian police overnight broke up a tent village that critics of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had set up in the main square of Kharkiv. Russian and Ukrainian news agencies said today that riot police surrounded the camp and beat protesters. The demonstrators had encamped to protest against what they said was Kuchma's involvement in kidnappings and murders of political opponents.
Socialist Party spokesman Vladimir Mukhin said police armed with batons dragged 50 protestors out of sleeping bags and arrested them, injuring two. City workers tore down the tent village.
Opposition members of parliament used an urban encampment last month to demonstrate against Kuchma, but the Kharkiv police action was the first that authorities have mounted against such a protest. Kharkiv is Ukraine's second largest city.