Injuries, Arrests Reported After Rally In Kyiv Demanding Help For Small Businesses

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

Eighteen police officers and three demonstrators were injured on January 25 in Kyiv when an estimated 2,000 people took part in a rally organized by the Save Private Entrepreneurs (SaveFOP) initiative.

Clashes broke out between protesters and law enforcement officers when protesters tried to break into parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, to get lawmakers to heed their demands for the passage of legislation to support entrepreneurs and small-business owners, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service reported.

Police used tear gas and detained dozens of people, according to the report.

A police statement said clashes broke out between protesters and law enforcement officers when protesters “behaved aggressively” and tried to break through a police barricade around a protected area of the Verkhovna Rada.

“The protesters did not respond to the repeated demands of the police to stop their actions, so in order to restore law and order the police immediately intervened in the situation and pushed them away,” a police statement said.

Participants who resisted police orders and committed illegal acts were taken to the Pechersk Police Department, the statement added.

The police did not specify how many people were taken into custody or whether they had been released or kept in detention.

The statement also said that information spread on the Internet that one of the protesters had died was false, but it said a man who became ill during the demonstration was given first aid by the police.

The federal police announced that two criminal investigations had been launched under the articles pertaining to hooliganism and threatening violence against a law enforcement officer, according to news reports.

Demonstrators waving white flags bearing the SaveFOP logo flooded the area near the parliament building amid a large police presence.

The protesters demanded the adoption of bills that concern amendments to the tax code and some other legislative acts on creating favorable conditions for small-business owners and entrepreneurs and increasing the transparency of their activities.