Protesters break down door of Ukraine parliament
Demonstrators protesting planned cuts to social benefits broke down a door into Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday, disrupting a legislative session, DPA reported.
Some 700 veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war and the Chernobyl nuclear power accident broke through a police cordon and smashed an entrance door in an attempt to enter the parliament building.
They had been demonstrating against legislation under consideration which plan reductions in pension and health payments, as well as cancellation of tax breaks and utility price reductions.
Portions of a recently built security fence around parliament were demolished by protesters, so they could assault an entrance door.
Some of the demonstrators shouted "Shame!" at legislators inside parliament, as they struggled against building security guards standing with locked arms inside the entrance.
Police were pushing reporters inside parliament away from windows, but by late morning police were not attempting to force the demonstrators back, only fighting to keep them from breaking in.
Witnesses said an ambulance was visible transporting injured police away from the scene.
Police anti-riot units were en route to parliament but, according to news reports, were in some cases delayed by heavy morning traffic in Kiev's centre.
Inside parliament, members of the opposition Batkyvshchina (Motherland) political party were delaying the session, having barricaded themselves at the speakers' lectern in the front of the parliament chamber. This prompted outrage, but no brawling, from pro-government legislators.
Ukrainian law currently places people who fought for the Soviet Union in the 1979-1989 war, and people injured in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power accident, in a special tax and benefits category giving them reduced prices on most government-provided services, including public transport and electricity and telephone bills.
Officials from the government of President Viktor Yanukovych have said people in these categories should receive fewer benefits, because the government budget is in the red and austerity measures are necessary.