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Kiev mayor suspended over crackdown on protesters

Dec. 14, 2013 at 2:36 PM

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Ukraine's president has suspended a top deputy and the mayor of Kiev over allegations they encouraged police brutality against protesters, officials say.

The country has been thrown into political turmoil after last month's decision by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to scrap an integration agreement with the European Union. Pro-EU protesters filled the streets in Kiev and a police crackdown began.

Now, allegations have surfaced the nation's deputy security chief and Kiev's mayor pressured the city's police chief to order the strong arm tactics to end the protests, the BBC reported Saturday.

Though the officials have been sidelined, the controversy has not ebbed. Protesters said they are scheduling another mass pro-EU rally Sunday.

Those in favor of the deal argue meeting the EU's more stringent rules and economic reforms would make the nation's business dealings more open and transparent.

Russia, which ran the Ukrainian government during the Soviet era, has chaffed at the idea of a former ally getting close to European competitors.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the reaction to dropping the EU deal "bordering on hysterical," Russian-backed media outlet RIA Novosti reported.

"A rabid reaction -- there aren't any other words for it -- has followed an absolutely normal event: a declaration by a government that after studying an agreement, it thinks it is not very advantageous to Ukraine, and they don't want to sign now but want to consider it further," Lavrov said. "Demonstrators are taking to the streets on such a scale ... it doesn't stand up to normal human analysis. There can be no doubt that provocateurs are behind this."

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