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Dozens hurt and arrested after Ukrainian nationalists attack parliament

Thirty-seven nationalist rioters have been arrested, and 17 policemen were hurt, after violent radicals besieged the Rada building, demanding special recognition for pro-independence rebels who fought against the Soviet Union in WW II.

The figures were posted by the interior minister Arsen Avakov on his Facebook page.

Streaming video from the scene showed officers in riot gear standing in tight formations near the building, as occasional bangs from exploding firecrackers were heard in the distance.

The protesters launched their offensive shortly after Ukrainian MPs voted against considering a bill, which would treat Ukrainian nationalists, who fought against Soviet troops during World War II, as war veterans.

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Tuesday is the anniversary of the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army), an armed Ukrainian nationalist organization that at one point during the war sided with the Nazis to fight against Russian troops. The organization was accused of war crimes, including the killings of Jews and Poles in Ukraine, and was hunted down after Moscow fought off the Nazi invasion and took control of Ukraine again.

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(Far-right parties and movements activists clash with riot police in front of the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev)

Modern Ukrainian nationalists from the Svoboda party are celebrating the anniversary with rallies across the country. The party’s flags as well as those of the radical Right Sector movement can be seen in the crowd of people encircling the parliament building.

The bill, which the MPs decided not to consider on Tuesday, would give surviving members of the UPA benefits similar to those given to war veterans. Incidentally, it was submitted by the Svoboda party.

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Inside the parliament, Speaker Aleksandr Turchinov called on fellow MPs to call off the protesters.

“It was reported that they started setting tires on fire. I call on the people doing it: such actions will not help pass this law. You will make part of the members leave the hall and there wouldn’t be enough to vote. Those who organized those people, please, call the street to order and stop interfering with the work of the parliament,” he said as cited by Ria Novosti.

Whatever disappointment the nationalists may have over the parliament’s lack of action on what they wanted, it is probably compensated by President Petro Poroshenko. His office announced that on Monday he signed a decree that makes October 14 a national holiday dedicated to the “defenders of independence and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

The honoring of Ukraine’s military was done earlier on February 23. The date was inherited from Soviet times and coincides with a similar national holiday in Russia.

This change is the latest in a string of moves by the new Ukrainian authorities to distance itself from Moscow. However, it may be viewed as offensive by older Ukrainians, who would see it as an attempt to glorify Nazi collaborators and vilify Ukraine’s Soviet past.

Report By RT (Source Link)