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Kiev orders 'loyalty checks' of Slavyansk police after militia relocate to Donetsk

Published time: July 06, 2014 03:48
Edited time: July 06, 2014 08:59
Firefighters extinguish a fire at the police HQ in the southeastern port city of Mariupol on May 9, 2014 after Kiev's tanks fired shells at it. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)

Firefighters extinguish a fire at the police HQ in the southeastern port city of Mariupol on May 9, 2014 after Kiev's tanks fired shells at it. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)

An internal investigation will be launched against all Ukrainian police officers who stayed in the city of Slavyansk and were reportedly detained after the militia of Donetsk People’s Republic broke out of the besieged city and relocated their forces.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement on Saturday evening, announcing that soon a new head of Slavyansk police will be appointed, while in the meantime “an internal investigation of each member of the local police force will be launched.”

The decision to investigate Slavyansk's law enforcement officers, was also announced by Deputy Interior Minister Sergei Yarovoy.

“During these official investigations we will determine if police officers in Slavyansk collaborated with the separatists or remained faithful to the oath to the Ukrainian people,” Yarovoy said, adding that a new police force in the city will be formed. He also said that police officers from other Ukrainian regions have already voiced their wish to come serve in Slavyansk.

According to unconfirmed reports from the ground, many of those police officers, who did not leave the city along with self-defense forces or fled earlier, have already been arrested by Ukrainian forces, as was promised by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

The commander of the Ukrainian National Guard meanwhile warned that it is “too early” to come back to the destroyed city, as the forces loyal to Kiev are still conducting a sweep of the city.

Aftermath of an artillery attack by the Ukrainian army on the Artyom district in Slavyansk. (RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

“Police [loyal to Kiev] arrived in the city. Now police began patrolling the city’s streets, yards. The situation is still difficult. There are clashes with small groups of armed men who remained in the city. There are attempts to stop us. But they are stopped by the [Kiev] forces that are in Slavyansk,” Commander of the National Guard Stepan Poltorak told TPK Ukraine.

The National Guard still needs time “to work” in Slavyansk before residents can return to the deserted city, Poltorak added. “We need to particularly examine the city center where there are lots of mined basements, attics,” Poltorak said, adding that civilians will be informed when the National Guard “finishes the job” and is “ready to receive them.”

Meanwhile the commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic's self-defense forces, Igor Strelkov told LifeNews that his forces had to leave the city to preserve lives amid the never-ending onslaught on the civilian population by the Ukrainian forces.

Up to “90 percent of the self-defense forces have left the city” along with 90 percent of the hardware and munitions, he said. Strelkov said that most of the population that supports them as well as families of the militia were also evacuated due to the threats to their lives.

But despite that, commander Strelkov believes the National Guard may now engage in punitive actions against those civilians of Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, and Artemovka who decided to stay or could not leave in time – for their suspected role in resisting and defying the Ukrainian authorities.

“As we were expecting, unfortunately... we already have information that they [Kiev's forces] started a bloodbath,” Strelkov said, claiming that a few of his forces confirmed this.

“The National Guard getting revenge for their numerous losses on the locals,” Strelkov said, apologising to those who thought that once self-defense forces leave, all who stayed will be “safe from repressions.”

“No, it will not save them,” Strelkov told LifeNews. “We are being attacked by real fascists, in a true sense of the word, killers, criminals, and marauders.”

On Saturday, after the militia were forced to leave their positions in the northern part of the front, they moved to reserve positions that had been prepared in advance, in and around the capital of the region Donetsk.

The country’s President Petro Poroshenko called the victory symbolic and ordered authorities to provide humanitarian aid to residents of Slavyansk and other areas “liberated from militants.” But the residents of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in the meantime were fleeing the cities after the DPR forces' retreat.