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Former Ukrainian interior minister injured in opposition clashes with police

Several people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters outside a Ukrainian court. The demonstrators were protesting a court ruling earlier in the day.

The clashes broke out after police, using tear gas and batons, moved in to break up a couple hundred demonstrators outside of the Kyiv court, which earlier in the day had sentenced three men to six years in jail on charges of having plotted to blow up a statue of Vladimir Lenin near Kyiv's main airport in 2011.

Ukrainian television broadcast video footage that showed several people being carried off on stretchers to an ambulance.

Among those reported injured was leading opposition figure and former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, who was seen with a large, partially bloodied bandage around his head (photo above).

"He has been placed in intensive care. They are going to keep him under observation," his wife Irina told opposition broadcaster Hromadske.

Other sources confirmed that Lutsenko had been among those injured but did not mention his condition.

Lutsenko, who was interior minister in the government of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, had himself been imprisoned in 2010 but was pardoned by President Viktor Yanukovych in April of last year.

Pro-EU demonstrations

The protest and clashes come against a backdrop of ongoing demonstrations against a decision by President Yanukovych last November to balk at signing a deal that would have increased political and trade ties with the European Union.

Yanukovych subsequently agreed to a deal in which

Moscow extended a $15-billion loan to Ukraine,

along with a reduction in the price the Kremlin charges Kyiv for Russian gas.

The demonstrations that followed gained steam after a violent crackdown on protesters during one of the first rallies.

One of the biggest came after journalist

Tetyana Chornovil

was

brutally beaten

late last month.

pfd/tj (Reuters, AFP)

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