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Police Dismantle Saakashvili Protest Camp In Kyiv; 20 Injured


Police Raid Protest Camp In Kyiv, Detain Dozens
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Police in Kyiv have dismantled a protest camp near the national parliament building, detaining more than 100 supporters of opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili amid clashes that left at least 20 people injured.

Andriy Kryshchenko, head of the Kyiv department of the National Police of Ukraine, said 13 protesters and seven police officers sought medical attention for injuries they sustained in violence that broke out during the March 3 police raid on the tent camp near the Verkhovna Rada.

Authorities said nine grenades, an unspecified number of Molotov cocktails, and five smoke bombs were seized by authorities during the raid.

A reporter covering the event for RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service said police used pepper spray against him, even though his press pass was visible.

As police cordoned off the area, black smoke billowed into the sky as protesters inside the makeshift camp set tires on fire.

The tent camp was set up last year by supporters of Saakashvili, a former Georgian president who became the governor of Ukraine's Odesa region.

Saakashvili later resigned from the Odesa governor's post and went into opposition against President Petro Poroshenko. He was deported from Ukraine to Poland in February.

"Police in riot gear approached from two sides and detained almost all the people [in the camp]. Trucks started dragging apart and demolishing the barricades," lawmaker and Saakashvili ally Yehor Sobolev said.

A police statement later on March 3 said a total of 111 people were taken to a Kyiv police station.

Authorities said administrative cases were opened against four people and eight others were being held for questioning.

Earlier, Kryshchenko said the police action was part of an investigation into antigovernment violence outside parliament in February.

Authorities said 14 police were injured in clashes on February 27 with antigovernment protesters who tried to set car tires on fire near the parliament.

Authorities said protesters also threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police.

Afterwards, the Kyiv police force said a probe had been opened into the "assault on law enforcement officers."

The camp was an offshoot of a broader opposition movement that holds regular peaceful protests in Kyiv to demand the resignation of Poroshenko over stalled reforms.

With reporting from Interfax and Reuters
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