Thousands of anti-government protesters have clashed with security forces in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, as the country\’s old Soviet master Russia blamed European "connivance" for encouraging the violence.
Emergency officials said one person was killed in the protests on Monday, but opposition leaders said at least 20 were killed, scores were injured and several others were "close to death".
Plumes of smoke and tear gas rose in the air as stun grenades boomed, after opposition leaders accused pro-government factions in parliament of dragging their feet on a constitutional reform that would limit presidential powers – a key opposition demand.
At least 20 protesters were killed and about 150 others injured, some seriously, in the fresh clashes, the AFP and Reuters news agencies reported opposition leaders as saying.
Lesya Orobets, of the Batkivshchyna political party, said on social media: "Three bodies of our supporters are in the building. Another seven are close to dying."
Medics at an opposition-run field hospital said that most of the injuries were caused by stun grenades while some of the 30 people in a serious condition had suffered head injuries, and one person had to have a hand amputated.
Within hours of the clashes, the Russian foreign ministry said that the violence was a "direct result of connivance by Western politicians and European structures that have shut their eyes … on the aggressive actions of radical forces".
The EU and Russia have accused each other of interfering in Ukraine\’s affairs.
Tens of thousands of protesters trying to march on the parliament building were blocked by lines of police vehicles, according to reports from Kiev.
Some ripped up cobblestones to throw at police, and others threw smoke bombs, while police responded with stun and smoke grenades, and rubber bullets.
Protesters attacked the headquarters of President Yanukovych\’s Party of the Regions, temporarily smashing their way in before being forced out by police, reported 5 Kanal TV.
Source: Aljazeera and agencies