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Communists barred from Ukrainian parliament

COMMUNIST Party of Ukraine (CPU) MPs found themselves banned today from participating in parliament after they protested at a plenary session being held behind closed doors.

Parliamentary group leader Petro Symonenko opposed the closed session and attacked government actions for worsening the situation in the east of the country.

Mr Symonenko called for an investigation into Friday’s massacre of 46 people in the Odessa trade union headquarters and urged an end to policies leading towards civil war.

However, the Rodina (Fatherland) and Svoboda (Freedom) parties united to hold their deliberations outside the public eye and voted to exclude the Communist deputies.

The CPU said that the Odessa tragedy “has once again confirmed the anti-people, fascist and dictatorial nature of the current government.”

It complained that the coup-installed government was describing civilian protesters as “terrorists” and “conducting punitive operations instead of a constructive dialogue with people in eastern Ukraine for the preservation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov disclosed official casualty figures yesterday concerning the government’s military offensive around Sloviansk, where he said 30 protesters and four troops had been killed.

He did not say when the people were killed, but it is likely that they died during Monday’s push by pro-Kiev forces.

The minister claimed that the people defending Sloviansk on Monday, numbering around 800, had deployed large-calibre weapons and mortars.

International flights to and from Donetsk airport were cancelled yesterday on orders from Kiev.

The government sought to deflect its own responsibility for Friday’s bloodshed in Odessa, sacking the acting governor and replacing him with parliamentary deputy and former businessman Ihor Palytsya.

It had already replaced the Odessa police chief on Saturday, just hours before hundreds of demonstrators stormed police headquarters, and forced police to released 67 people arrested the previous day.

The government dispatched an elite police force to Odessa on Monday to patrol the streets and clamp down on unrest.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry blamed what it called the “Kiev organisers of terror” for the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, urging that peaceful negotiations replace military operations.

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