Ukraine's new rulers disband riot police

KIEV Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:22am EST

A woman kneels in front of Ukranian riot police unit ''Berkut'' as they stand by during rallies by anti and pro-Yanukovich supporters in the eastern city of Donetsk, February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

A woman kneels in front of Ukranian riot police unit ''Berkut'' as they stand by during rallies by anti and pro-Yanukovich supporters in the eastern city of Donetsk, February 23, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's riot police force, held responsible for the deaths of most of the 100 people killed in unrest and clashes in Kiev, has been disbanded, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Wednesday.

Snipers from the 'Berkut' force - whose name means golden eagle and signifies a predator capable of swooping quickly on to its prey - are blamed for the deaths of most of the protesters in a three-day spasm of violence last week.

"The Berkut no longer exists", Avakov wrote in a blog on Facebook. "I have signed an order ... for the liquidation of the Berkut special police units," he said.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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