Police ordered to "shoot to kill" anyone with weapons
This article originally appeared in The Kyiv Post
A freak road accident involving a Ukrainian armored personnel vehicle that killed an 8-year-old girl escalated into a series of riots in Kostantynivka, Donetsk Oblast, on March 16.
The accident took place at around 3 p.m. in the center of the city of 95,000 residents. The armored vehicle lost control on the road and hit the little girl, her aunt and her baby cousin. The aunt received heavy injuries and was taken to a local hospital, but the baby was not injured, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
The accident caused unrest in the city, where many residents do not welcome the Ukrainian authorities and troops. According to some reports from the ground, Ukrainian military barracks were set on fire, but Kyiv Post has not been able to get an independent confirmation.
The Ukrainian authorities have said the soldiers who drove the military vehicle have already been detained.
“When investigation ends, those who are guilty will be severely punished,” Ukraine's Defense Ministry said in a statement. “Moreover, commanders will be held responsible for absence of proper control.”
The ministry also said a special group of investigators was sent to the ground, and the military prosecutor alerted. Meanwhile, head of the interior ministry department in Donetsk Oblast wrote on his Facebook page that he was also traveling to Kostyantynivka to personally oversee the investigation.
“The criminals will be punished whoever they are,” Vyacheslav Abroskin wrote.
Meanwhile, videos of unrest in Kostyantynivka have become viral in social networks. Most of them showed people shouting in the streets andfires burning. The local office of the interior ministry said protesters burned tires in the streets.
Also, propaganda machines on both sides geared up and pumped out scores of tweets about the incident. On one side, trolls issued warnings that the Right Sector “punishers” were coming into town to rein in the local population. On the other side, numerous tweets warned that somebody was using the accident to incite riots.
As the situation escalated by the evening, the Ukrainian authorities allowed police officers to use weapons in case of mass riots, AntonHerashchenko, an adviser to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, told 112 TV channel.
“If anyone in Kostyantynivka, with weapons, stands against the laws of the Ukrainian authorities, using this road accident for mass clashes, then a single warning shot will be fired, and then they (police) will shoot to kill. If there is no time for warning, they will shoot to kill immediately,” Herashchenko said.