25 January, 20:11

Policemen held hostage in Kiev were tortured by protesters - Minister

Policemen held hostage in Kiev were tortured by protesters - Minister

Both policemen whom protesters had held hostage in the Kiev city administration building were released on Saturday, the Interior Minister said, claiming the officers "were tortured" during their captivity.

"I want to thank all those who were involved in the release of the two police officers whom so-called 'guards of the Maidan' seized and held captive in the building of the Kiev City State Administration. Peaceful protesters and ambassadors of foreign states helped us in the negotiation process. The captive law enforcers were tortured and are in hospital at the moment," Vitaly Zakharchenko said in a statement posted on his ministry's website.

"Maidan," "square" in Ukrainian, is a colloquial name for the pro-European Union movement derived from Independence Square in Kiev, the main site of pro-EU protests.

"This is not the first instance of riots inside occupied buildings where extremists beat and torture people," Zakharchenko said.

"If you really are patriots and want to preserve our country," the minister said in addressing opposition leaders, "show political maturity and wisdom."

"This is not a war game. There are real victims here - policemen are burning alive, and extremists are shooting people. They hide behind the backs of children and women, they need chaos," he said.

"Leave the radicals alone, no one would try to prevent peaceful protests, move over to another, secure place," Zakharchenko said.

"As minister of internal affairs, I guarantee assistance to you in this from the police and security for peaceful rallies."

"As for those who stay on Independence Square, we will consider them extremist groups. If any danger arises and the radicals become active, we will have to use force," the minister said.

According to a police report, on Friday evening members of the "self-defense of the Maidan" attacked three policemen on Independence Square, stabbing on one of them and taking the other two hostage.

The so-called "National Resistance Committee" claimed the report was a provocative hoax.

Voice of Russia, Interfax

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