Dozens of people have been injured in an explosion and clashes outside of the Ukrainian parliament. The trouble broke out as lawmakers voted on a constitutional amendment to help end the fighting in the country's east.
At least 90 members of the security forces were injured in an explosion and clashes with demonstrators protesting against the proposed legislation put before lawmakers inside the parliament building in Kyiv on Monday, according to an interior ministry spokesman cited by the AFP news agency.
The DPA news agency put the casualty count slightly higher, quoting the Ukrainian capital's police chief, Alexander Tereshchuk, who said that 100 had been wounded. There was also an unconfirmed report that one person had been killed in the clashes.
The explosion is reported to have been caused by a grenade thrown from the crowd of protesters.
AFP also quoted Interior Minister Arsen Avakov as saying on Facebook that more than 30 people had already been detained in the unrest.
Passed in first reading
Inside the Rada, a total of 265 lawmakers voted in favor of the "decentralization bill," which would grant greater autonomy to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are mostly controlled by pro-Russia separatists. The proposed constitutional amendment is part of Kyiv's side of the bargain to implement the Minsk peace accord meant to bring an end to the fighting in the east.
The 265 votes was 39 more than required for the measure to pass in first reading, but many allies of President Petro Petroshenko's pro-Western bloc spoke out against it and it remains to be seen whether the government will be able to muster the 300 votes needed for it to pass in the second and final reading later this year.
Monday's clashes amounted to the worst unrest the Ukrainian capital has experienced since a sometimes bloody popular uprising against Kremlin-backed former President Viktor Yanukovych early last year. This led Yanukovych to flee the country for Russia, after which lawmakers voted to remove him from office. This helped set into motion the series of events that culminated in the separatist insurgency by the pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
pfd/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)