The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has officially apologized and launched an internal inquiry after a video showing Berkut special forces ridiculing a naked Kiev rioter in freezing temperatures appeared on the internet.
The statement published on the ministry’s official website called the officers’ actions “unacceptable.”
The responsible officers will be found and “may even face criminal liability” for their behavior, Interior Ministry spokesman Sergey Burlakov told Vesti newspaper.
The controversial video was posted on the web on Thursday. It shows a man wearing only boots surrounded by a group of officers in the street.
Despite temperatures falling below -10 Celcius, the masked officers did not allow the man into the police van for over a minute.
The Berkut troops verbally abused the detainee, handing him an ice axe and posing for pictures with him.
Cuts and bruises can be clearly seen on the man in the footage. He was reportedly a Grushevskogo Street protester.
Warning: The video below contains graphic nudity
An unnamed Berkut officer told Vesti that the man in the video deserved harsh treatment because the police have been after him for the past two days.
“He was one of the most accurate throwers. He tossed Molotov cocktails at us and a lot of our guys got seriously hurt. We were tracking him for a long time, but eventually caught and undressed him. He was our ‘souvenir,’ a warning to the others,” the officer said.
Clashes between rioters and police in Kiev this week have seen the most violent manifestation of protests thus far. The demonstrations initially began two months ago after the government refused to sign an EU integration deal.
Two protesters have been killed and over 300 injured in the fighting, according to the opposition.
The Interior Ministry says that more than 250 of its officers have been wounded over the past four days. Over 100 of them have been hospitalized.