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Ukrainian Protesters Attack Van That Spied on Rally

Oleh Tyahnybok standing in front of the van which has its windows bashed and equipment siezed by demonstrators. Chris Collison

Outraged Ukrainian protesters seized a secret services van that was disguised as an anti-government vehicle with yellow and blue ribbons but was apparently intercepting their cell phone calls during a demonstration in Kiev.

The Ukrainian Security Service said the van was dispatched on Monday night as a routine precaution against a possible terrorist threat on European Square, where protesters have gathered since last week to demand that President Viktor Yanokovych endorse plans to integrate with the European Union, Lenta.ru reported.

Opposition lawmaker Oleh Tyahnybok said security agents had "camouflaged the van very well" with the colorful ribbons, Interfax reported.

"When demonstrators walked by the vehicle, their cell phone signals disappeared," Tyahnybok told ICTV television.

Protesters also spotted weapons and "unknown equipment" through the windows, he said.

Clashes broke out when riot police showed up, responding to what police described as a call from a protester who reported a vehicle loaded with explosives. The protesters interpreted the arrival of the police as an attempt to disperse the rally.

Tyahnybok said that protesters rocked the van, then opened its doors and seized computers, security equipment and "several suitcases" loaded with "horrible things — listening devices, special antennae for intercepting radio signals and about five extra license plates for that vehicle."

Sections of the square filled with tear gas, injuring several people. Police said it was unclear whether the officers or the protesters were first to fire gas canisters.

The van drove off with flat tires, but protesters kept the equipment and planned to show it on national television later Tuesday, Tyahnybok said.

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