Ukraine Accuses Police 'Black Unit' of Mass Murder

12 members of Berkut riot police detained

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 3, 2014 7:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – Ukraine has arrested 12 riot police on suspicion that they gunned down peaceful protesters in Kiev during the demonstrations that led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich. More than 100 people were killed in the protests, and the since-disbanded Berkut police force has long been considered responsible. The 12 arrested come from a "Black Unit" within the Berkut, officials tell Reuters, and they're all "suspected of mass murder on Institutska Street." Snipers gunned down 76 people on Institutska Street, which leads into Kiev's Independence Square.

Most of the arrests came after Interior Minister Arsen Avakov publicly revealed the results of an official investigation into the killings, and publicly named the unit's leader—who is suspected of personally killing 17 people, the BBC reports. He said the killings took place "under the direct leadership" of Yanukovich—warrants for the ousted president and his former security chief have also been issued—and that the old government had tried to destroy evidence by burning uniforms and dumping weapons.

In this photo taken on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, members of Berkut riot police kneel in front of the crowd as they apologize for their actions in a stage in central Lviv.
In this photo taken on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, members of Berkut riot police kneel in front of the crowd as they apologize for their actions in a stage in central Lviv.   (AP Photo/Pavlo Palamarchuk)
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