Europe

Russia jails Crimea man for police injury in Kiev riot

Riot police firing rubber bullets in Kiev's Maidan clashes, Feb 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Special riot police - the Berkut - fired rubber bullets during Kiev's Maidan clashes

A Russian court in Crimea has handed down a four-year jail term to a local activist for injuring a riot policeman during anti-government protests in the Ukrainian capital Kiev last year.

Alexander Kostenko reportedly threw a stone at a Berkut policeman in Kiev.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March 2014, and Russian institutions set up there are not internationally recognised.

The prosecutor said more activists from the Kiev unrest would go on trial.

The case was heard in a court in Crimea's capital Simferopol. Kostenko was also found guilty of illegal possession of a weapon.

Kostenko denied involvement in the violence on Kiev's Maidan - Independence Square - on 18 February 2014, when the Berkut policeman from Crimea was injured.

His lawyer Dmitry Sotnikov said Kostenko would appeal against the sentence. He rejected the court's use of Russian law to prosecute a Ukrainian citizen for actions against other Ukrainians "on Ukrainian territory".

The Russian government says the Maidan unrest which toppled Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych was a "coup" supported by Western powers. Mr Yanukovych had refused to sign a far-reaching trade and co-operation pact with the EU.

Separately on Friday Russia's permanent representative to Nato, Alexander Grushko, said Russia would "partially strengthen" its military forces in Crimea, "because Nato countries are intensifying their activities, deploying new capabilities right near our borders".

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