An international advocacy group has accused riot police in Ukraine’s capital of deliberately targeting journalists and medics while aggressively dispersing anti-government rioters.
According to RIA Novosti, New-York based Human Rights Watch said in a report published Friday that it documented at least 13 cases earlier this month in which journalists or medical staff were beaten, injured with stun grenades or shot with rubber bullets.
Local nongovernmental groups have reported more than 60 such cases.
Ukraine’s authorities have come under international criticism for what has sometimes been a heavy-handed treatment of radical demonstrators.
Officials have pointed to the increasing use of violence by demonstrators, who have on occasion attacked police with sticks and pelted them with Molotov cocktails.
Most injuries were reported during the violent clashes on January 19 on Hrushevskyy Street, a thoroughfare in downtown Kiev on which several key government buildings are located. Journalists and medics said they were targeted despite wearing clear marking identifying who they were.
Kerry criticizes Yanukovich for not doing enough
Meanwhile, in an apparent move to meddle in internal affairs of other countries, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that concessions made by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to the opposition did not go far enough, as political turmoil sent the hryvnia currency tumbling to 4-1/2 year lows.
Kerry, speaking with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a visit to Berlin, also said "outside powers" should not get involved in a crisis that he said was for the Ukrainian people to resolve, Reuters reported.
"The offers of President Yanukovich have not yet reached a level that would be sufficient regarding the reforms," Kerry said, according to a German translation of his remarks.
Yanukovich has accepted the resignation of his government and offered amnesty from prosecution for peaceful protesters, in a gesture to demonstrators camped out in Kiev. However, they and the main opposition leaders are pressing on with their protests.
At least six people have been killed and hundreds more injured in street battles between anti-government demonstrators and police, which have escalated sharply in recent weeks after the authorities toughened their response.
The currency hryvnia slumped 2.5 percent against the dollar on Friday for its biggest one-day fall since the third quarter of 2009. Analysts attributed the drop to political developments and fears Russia may halt the disbursement of its $15 billion loan package that saved Ukraine from the brink of default later last year.
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