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ukraine protests

One Ukraine’s national guardsman has been killed and about 100 injured in violent protests outside Ukraine’s parliament, the interior ministry said.

Clashes between nationalists and riot police erupted after members of parliament gave initial backing to reforms for more autonomy in the rebel-held east.

National guardsmen were pelted with fire crackers and petrol bombs as explosions were heard.

The reforms are part of a peace plan to end fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Protesters led by the populist Radical Party and the ultra-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party – who fear the loss of the east to Russian-backed separatists – gathered outside parliament on August 31.

After a rowdy debate, 265 members of parliament out of 450 backed the first reading of the decentralization bill, granting more powers to areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.Ukraine parliament protest

The Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, said some 30 people have been detained, including a Svoboda member who confessed to throwing a grenade.

He bitterly criticized Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, writing on Facebook that several explosive devices had been thrown by people wearing Svoboda T-shirts.

A policeman’s leg was torn off below the knee in the blast, Interfax Ukraine reported, while journalists at the scene were also reported injured.

Almost 7,000 people have died since the conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out in March 2014, after Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Pushing through greater autonomy for the rebel-held areas is a key part of the Minsk peace deal, originally signed in February.

During the summer, fighting between Ukrainian army forces and the rebels has escalated. But the two sides agreed last week to halt the violence on September 1, the day children in the region return to school.

Although the number of ceasefire violations appears to have fallen in recent days, OSCE monitors have warned that neither side was respecting the truce.

Under the draft constitutional changes going through parliament, there will be a special law covering local government in rebel-held areas.

However, parliament speaker Volodymyr Hroysman was adamant that would not mean special status for Donetsk and Luhansk, which rebel leaders have declared republics.

If President Petro Poroshenko is to succeed in pushing through the reforms, he will need the support of 300 members of parliament, seen as a tall order for the Ukrainian leader.

Petro Poroshenko is due to address the nation on the proposals and the violence outside parliament on August 31.

Clashes have erupted between Ukrainian protesters and riot police outside city hall in Kiev.

The clashes follow a night of scuffles and a stand-off after police moved in on a large protest camp in Independence Square.

But more demonstrators have joined the protest in response to an opposition call for solidarity.

The government’s decision to withdraw from a free-trade deal with the EU last month sparked huge street rallies.

Police stormed city hall as they tried to dislodge protesters from the building.

Reports said protesters used hoses to fire icy water back at the police.

Clashes have erupted between Ukrainian protesters and riot police outside city hall in Kiev

Clashes have erupted between Ukrainian protesters and riot police outside city hall in Kiev

Protesters gathered around the police, chanting slogans against their action, said 5 Kanal TV station in scenes carried on a live feed from the protests.

Police had moved in on the protest at about 02:00 a.m., saying they wanted to free up a passage through the square for traffic.

Protesters in hard hats locked arms to form human walls to try to resist the police push. At least nine people were detained.

There were calls for restraint from priests intoning prayers and pop singer Ruslana – urging “Do not hurt us!” – on a stage in the square. More people flooded into the square in response to pleas for solidarity.

The latest police action comes after EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held talks with President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday.

Baroness Catherine Ashton, who was cheered by crowds when she visited Kiev’s main protest site, said she was saddened that police had later used force to try to remove protesters.

“I was among you on Maidan [Independence Square] in the evening and was impressed by determination of Ukrainians demonstrating for European perspective of the country,” Catherine Ashton said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“Some hours later I observe with sadness that police uses force to remove peaceful people from the centre of Kiev. The authorities didn’t need to act under the coverage of night to engage with the society by using police.”

Riot police and interior ministry officers dismantled some barriers and tents but met resistance from opposition supporters.

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