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Ukraine: Moscow Was Behind 2014 Deaths Of Protesters In Kiev

People pay their respects Friday in honor of the "Heavenly Hundred" who were killed a year ago on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, speaking on the one-year anniversary of a bloody day of anti-government protests in Kiev that precipitated the ouster of his Moscow-backed predecessor, accuses Russia of having a direct role in the killing of dozens of activists.

Poroshenko told a crowd gathered for the first anniversary of the clashes that a top Kremlin aide, Vladislav Surkov, "led the organization of groups of foreign snipers on [Kiev's] Maidan."

As we reported several weeks after last year's killings, an inquiry into the killings conducted by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov concluded that former President Viktor Yanukovych "employed gangs of killers, kidnappers and thugs to terrorize and undermine the opposition during Ukraine's tumultuous winter of discontent," but said nothing of any direct involvement from Moscow. Yanukovych has denied the charge.

More than 100 were killed by gunfire in the square, many hit by snipers.

Poroshenko's remarks come as Kiev's forces have been driven out of strategic areas of the country's east by Russian-backed separatists.

The Ukrainian president also accused Moscow of sending in tanks and missile batteries to aid the rebels in direct violation of a cease-fire deal that went into effect nearly a week ago.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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