Ukraine's security service detain ultra-nationalist leader

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's SBU security service on Wednesday detained the leader of the nationalist UNA-UNSO movement, whose members are believed to have joined in violent clashes with police during protests earlier in the month.

Security officers detained Andriy Shkil in connection with investigation of violence in the capital Kiev on March 9, the SBU's press service said in a statement. SBU said the violence constituted mass disorder and has opened a criminal investigation.

"His right to a defense according to Ukraine's Constitution and Criminal Code has been explained and provided to him," the statement said.

If convicted of instigating mass disorder, Shkil could face up to 12 years in prison.

Several protesters and policemen were injured during clashes on March 9,
when some 18,000 people demanded President Leonid Kuchma's ouster. Police used tear gas against the protesters and detained more than 200. But only few remain in jail, according to news reports. Opposition leaders said the violence was launched by provocateurs and said they suspect police agents.

Also, opposition lawmakers said some 16 UNA-UNSO members were missing
after the protest, blaming police for possible harassment.

Police spokesman Oleksandr Zarubytskyi said Wednesday that a list of missing nationalists was a "clumsy fiction," the Interfax news agency said.

At least four of those listed were jailed for hooliganism or detained in connection with the mass disorder investigation, he said.

"As for others, there are grounds to say that these people are afraid of responsibility and are in hiding," Zarubytskyi was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Protests have shaken Ukraine since December, when opposition lawmakers accused Kuchma of involvement in the killing of a critical journalist. Kuchma denies the accusation and says the protesters represent a minority opinion.

Associated Press Newswires

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