Poroshenko calls grenade attack outside Ukraine parliament a “stab in the back”

By bne IntelliNews September 1, 2015

bne IntelliNews -

 

In an address to the nation, President Petro Poroshenko called a grenade attack against police defending parliament against nationalist protestors on August 31 as a “stab in the back” for Ukraine.

The attack killed one policeman and severely injured another two, with 120 reported injured in the attack. Others were reportedly injured by gunshot fire.

The attack has split the political alliance beween nationalists and liberals that came to power in February 2014, ousting the former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych after months of protests, and bringing the liberal-minded Poroshenko to power in May 2014.

The violent protests on August 31 outside the parliament, led by the West Ukrainian nationalist Svoboda party, were against a law voted through by parliament on August 31 to provide some autonomy to territories in East Ukraine currently held by Russian-backed rebels.

A Svoboda supporter and member of a Ukrainian irregular volunteer batallion taking part in the protest was detained and charged with throwing the grenade.

“How can you call events that unfolded near the Verkhovna Rada other than a stab in the back? It was an anti-Ukrainian action for which all organizers, all representatives of political forces without any exception must carry full responsibility,” Poroshenko said in his address to the nation in the evening of August 31. 

“They have attempted to storm the parliament. They have thrown a grenade. They have targeted a serviceman of the National Guard in his heart and killed him! They have wounded around 120 servicemen and police officers – many of whom took part in the Anti-Terrorist Operation [against Russian-backed rebels in East Ukraine], some of them are decorated with state awards,” Poroshenko added.

Apart from the alleged perpetrator, another 30 protestors were detained, according to the interior ministry. According to the prosecutor general, a criminal investigation has been launched into murder, violence against law enforcers, violation of public order and rioting.

The events of August 31 are now pitting Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk against their former ally Oleh Tyahnibok, leader of Svoboda, who was prominent in the protests.

Tyahnibok was one of the driving forces behind the mass anti-government protests in the centre of Kyiv during the winter of 2013-2014 that finally ousted Yanukovych in February 2014, bringing Yatsenyuk to power as prime minister, with Poroshenko elected president in May 2014.

“I see that the government has resolved to systematically destroy the nationalist movement. They can't contemplate the existence of any nationalist opposition movement,” blogged Svoboda-linked commentator Oleksandr Aronets.   

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