KIEV, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – The Ukrainian military brigade that laid down its weapons during a special operation against protesters earlier this week will be dissolved and its soldiers will stand trial, acting Ukrainian President Olexander Turchynov said Thursday.
“The 25th Airborne Brigade, the soldiers of which showed cowardice and gave up their weapons, will be dissolved and the military personnel responsible for this will stand trial,” Turchynov said during a session of parliament.
Turchynov added that an order on the matter had already been sent to the Defense Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office.
The Dnepropetrovsk 25th airborne brigade laid down their weapons and joined the activists during the special operation in Kramatorsk earlier this week. Six of the country's armored transport vehicles are currently controlled by pro-federalist activists, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
The Ukrainian military launched the operation to crack down on self-defense activists in eastern Ukraine, targeting the cities of Kramatorsk and Slaviansk in the Donetsk region.
According to unconfirmed reports, at least four protesters were killed and two others wounded Tuesday as Ukrainian troops stormed an airfield in Kramatorsk, local pro-federalization supporters said.
On Thursday, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that a skirmish overnight in the country’s southeastern city of Mariupol left at least three dead and 13 injured.
Eastern Ukraine has been swept by rallies since last month. Federalization supporters in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Gorlovka, Slaviansk and Kramatorsk have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian government and are urging interim authorities to hold referendums similar to the one held in Crimea last month, which led to the republic's reunification with Russia.
Moscow has condemned the decision by the new Ukrainian authorities to use force against the federalization supporters, saying it was an extremely unpleasant turn of events.