Ukraine's Riot Police Unit Berkut to Be Disbanded

World | February 26, 2014, Wednesday // 09:35
Bulgaria: Ukraine's Riot Police Unit Berkut to Be Disbanded Ukrainian acting Interior Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov talks with supporters in front of the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, 22 February 2014. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Ukraine's acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, informed he had signed an order to disband the country's Berkut special police force.

Avakov announced the step in an update on his official Facebook page on Tuesday, according to reports of ITAR-TASS.

He said that he had signed an order for the abolition of the police unit on February 25 and that the details about the measure would be provided at a special briefing on February 26.

The Berkut unit comprises some 4000 troops specialized in riot control and rapid-response operations, according to RIA novosti.

The proposal to dissolve Berkut, the riot police force relentlessly deployed by the now-ousted government of President Viktor Yanukovych against protesters, was put forward earlier this week by the nationalist Svoboda party.

The special police unit has been accused of using excessive force to contain the demonstrations sparked in late November by Yanukovych's decision to back out of a strategic deal with the EU and seek closer ties with Russia.

The protests turned violent, with around 100 people, including more than a dozen police officers, killed at the peak of the unrest last week, many of them from gunshot wounds.

Former Ukrainian President Yanukovytch faces accusations of being directly responsible for the bloody crackdown on protesters.

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Tags: Berkut, Ukraine, Arsen Avakov, riot police, Viktor Yanukovych, anti-government protesters, police brutality
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