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Clashes outside Ukraine parliament


Police clash with demonstrators outside parliament in Kiev, Ukraine (AP)

Police clash with demonstrators outside parliament in Kiev, Ukraine (AP)

Police clash with demonstrators outside parliament in Kiev, Ukraine (AP)

Clashes have broken out between demonstrators and police in front of Ukraine's parliament in Kiev as politicians inside repeatedly voted down proposals to recognise a contentious Second World War-era Ukrainian partisan group as national heroes.

Thousands of Svoboda nationalist party supporters had rallied earlier in the capital in celebration of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, whose struggle for independence for Ukraine was tainted by its collaboration with the Nazis.

Later, masked men attacked and threw smoke grenades at lines of police outside parliament as politicians met inside. The interior ministry said 36 people were detained by police.

Svoboda said its members were not responsible for the unrest, which police said was orchestrated by a small group of people at the rally.

The unrest overshadowed the passage of laws the government hopes will contain the corruption that has long hindered Ukraine's sclerotic economy.

President Petro Poroshenko urged members to keep up the fight against corruption, a problem that he equated with terrorism.

One law backed by 278 out of the 303 registered deputies creates an anti-corruption bureau to fight graft.

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Other approved provisions included laws to stem money-laundering and to increase corporate transparency.

Parliament also approved a new defence minister - former National Guard head Stepan Poltorak - a pressing priority as Ukraine still faces daily clashes with pro-Russian separatists in its industrial eastern regions.

A ceasefire has been in place since early September but violations are reported daily. The Ukrainian defence ministry said their positions had come under rocket fire more than 30 times in the last 24 hours.

Security spokesman Colonel Andrei Lysenko said seven servicemen in the east had been killed over the same time period, six of them by mines.

Much of the fighting in the east has focused on the government-held airport in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk. A rebel commander leading that assault, who identifies himself only by the nom de guerre Givi, said 27 of his fighters have been killed in the last three weeks while fighting for the airport.

Civilians have suffered the brunt of the fighting. Local authorities in Mariupol, a government-controlled city on the Black Sea, said five people were killed on Tuesday by shelling in the nearby village of Sartana.

The city hall said the shells were fired by rebels and hit people taking part in a funeral process.

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