(Adds response from Kiev)
MOSCOW, March 10 Russia's Foreign Ministry said
on Monday it was outraged by lawlessness in eastern Ukraine, and
accused the far-right paramilitary movement Right Sector of
"conniving" with the new government in Kiev.
Ukraine denied the allegation, and dismissed as untrue
Moscow's accusations of misdeeds in its eastern regions.
In its latest salvo in a propaganda war over Ukraine, in
which the United States has issued a list of what it calls 10
false claims by President Vladimir Putin, Russia accused the
West of being silent over violence and detentions taking place
there against Russian compatriots.
The ministry said in a statement masked men had opened fire
on peaceful demonstrators in the eastern city of Kharkiv on
March 8, wounding some.
It also said seven Russian journalists had been detained in
the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk, suggesting the new leaders
and their Western allies were not committed to media freedoms.
"The shamefaced silence of our Western partners, human
rights organisations and foreign media is surprising. It raises
the question - where is the notorious objectivity and commitment
to democracy?" it said.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry issued a lengthy rebuttal
expressing "surprise" at the Russian statement. It denied that
shots had been fired and demonstrators wounded in Kharkiv and
said it had no confirmation that journalists had been detained.
"It is a pity that in this situation the Russian Foreign
Ministry, instead of carrying out its foreign policy duties and
ensuring that Russia meets its international obligations, has
taken on the mission of systematic disinformation...," it said.
Ukrainian and foreign reporters, it said, were "encountering
obstacles to their legal professional activities ... direct
threats and even aggressive acts of force, beatings and
Kharkiv police said they were treating the Kharkiv incident
as a minor one and say the only link to Right Sector came from
an anonymous phone caller.
Ukraine's government and Western leaders have accused
Russian officials and media of distorting the facts to portray
the protesters who ended Moscow-backed President Viktor
Yanukovich's rule as violent extremists.
Witnesses in eastern Ukraine say tensions have been stoked
by pro-Russian activists stirring violence to provide Putin with
a justification for invading Ukraine to protect Russians there.
An official who monitors media freedom for The Organisation
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said after
visiting Crimea last week that her more pressing concern was
about media freedoms in the southern Ukrainian region.
She said pro-Russian authorities who have seized power in
Crimea were clamping down on media that did not support them and
were intimidating reporters.
(Reporting by Megan Davies, writing by Elizabeth Piper, Editing
by Timothy Heritage and Ron Popeski)