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Ukraine police, lockdown protesters clash

A police officer has been knocked unconscious and 40 others received chemical eye burns from gas in clashes between police and thousands of people protesting a government lockdown to fight the coronavirus, the interior ministry says.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government has announced a tight lockdown starting in January to fight the spread of COVID-19 after a recent spike in cases.

At a rally of entrepreneurs and representatives of small businesses on Kiev’s Independence Square, clashes between helmeted riot police and demonstrators erupted after the protesters tried to set up tents.

“One policeman was hit on the head – and he lost consciousness. Another 40 received chemical eye burns,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

Three police officers were hospitalised after being attacked by a group of drunk men, police said in a separate statement.

More than 900,000 people have contracted the coronavirus in Ukraine.

The new lockdown measures, which include the closure of schools, cafes, restaurants, gyms and entertainment centres and a ban on mass gatherings, will be in force from January 8 to 24.

The government last month introduced a lockdown at weekends, closing or restricting most businesses except those involved in essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transportation.

It lifted the restrictions on December 2.

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