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Pro-Ukrainian demonstrators react as an armoured military vehicle, believed to be Russian, passes by outside the Crimean city of Simferopol March 10, 2014. Crimea's pro-Russian prime minister will give people living there the choice of taking Russian or Ukrainian passports if the Ukrainian territory becomes part of Russia in a March 16 referendum, RIA news agency reported on Monday. (Reuters photo)

Russian Foreign Ministry condemns 'lawlessness' in east Ukraine

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Russian Foreign Ministry condemns 'lawlessness' in east Ukraine
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday it was outraged by lawlessness in eastern Ukraine, blaming the far-right paramilitary movement Right Sector for "conniving" with the new government in Kiev.


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 organizations and foreign media is surprising. It raises the question - where is the notorious objectivity and commitment to democracy?" it said.

Kharkiv police are 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 Organization 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.