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Self-proclaimed protectors of Kiev look to Ukraine's east

Published on Feb 24, 2014 1:15 PM
Ukranian riot police stand by during rallies by anti and pro-Yanukovich suppoters in the eastern city of Donetsk, on Feb 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KIEV (REUTERS) - Some wear black balaclavas and grubby army fatigues, others wield spiked iron clubs, all united in a common goal to protect Kiev in the power vacuum following the ouster of president Viktor Yanukovych.

This self-styled defence force also has designs beyond the capital.

In the months of anti-government protests that culminated in fatal gun battles and the fall of the president, a hard core of demonstrators has coalesced into units of about 100 men, forming the vanguard of the fight to bring down Yanukovych and recalibrate Ukraine towards Europe.

It was these groups, known as 'sotnyi', that took control of Yanukovich's offices after he fled the capital late on Friday.

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