Ukraine disbands riot police unit

Updated: 2014-02-26 22:09


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KIEV - Ukraine's riot police force has been disbanded following accusations of violent attacks on protesters, the acting interior minister said Wednesday.

Arsen Avakov revealed on his Facebook page that he has signed a decree to disband the unit, known as Berkut in Ukrainian.

Anti-government protesters blamed the elite unit, which was two decades old and had 4,000-5,000 members, for violent attacks against a peaceful demonstration protesting the government's decision to hold back on its EU entrance progress.

The protests, which started in November, turned violent on February 18, when protesters allegedly attacked police with Molotov cocktails and set fires outside the parliament, while police reportedly responded with stun grenades and water cannons. The standoff left at least 77 people dead and hundreds of others injured.

The whereabouts of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych are still unknown after he reportedly left the capital city last Friday to take part in a regional meeting in Kharkov, near the Russian border.