About 40 police officers were injured in central Kiev on Tuesday in clashes with anti-containment protesters, Ukrainian police said in a statement.
Several thousand people, many of whom were small entrepreneurs and traders, gathered in Independence Square, better known in Kiev as Maidan, to take part in a demonstration against the measures recently taken.
Ukrainian authorities announced last week the closure of schools, universities, non-essential businesses, restaurants, cinemas and sports halls from January 8 to 24 to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
“We just want to have the right to exist,” Serguiï Cheloukhine, 34, told AFP, adding that he had little income but needed a “chance to survive” during this period.
The demonstrators held up white flags and placards, one of which read “Come to your senses, you are killing us!”. They attempted to set up tents in the square but were prevented from doing so by police, with local media reporting tear gas firing.
An AFP journalist saw ambulances heading towards the square and a protester taken away from the crowds. No figures were given on the injured among the demonstrators.
The police for their part indicated that 40 police officers suffered burns to the eyes after the sending by the demonstrators of tear gas bombs. A policeman was also injured in the head.
“Three members of the security forces were hospitalized with facial injuries and bruises,” the police said in a statement.
A former Soviet republic with a dilapidated health system, Ukraine has recorded more than 909,000 cases of coronavirus, including 15,480 fatalities, for around 40 million inhabitants.