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23 Apr, 2009 06:03

Ukrainian security services target passers-by

Ukrainian special services have detained dozens of ordinary citizens as “terrorists” during anti-terror exercises in the port city of Sevastopol.

That’s according to a report in the Ukrainian edition of Komsolmolskaya Pravda newspaper.

The exercises took place on Monday. The scenario was that a group of armed terrorists had stormed a theatre and taken the audience, actors and technical staff hostage.

On the same day local Internet forums were overloaded with angry posts from people unintentionally swept up in the event.

“They were detaining everyone without making any distinction. Why and for what – I only realized that afterwards. It turned out they were conducting exercises – but what do I have to do with that? They could have informed us beforehand,” said one of those detained.

Both locals and Russian tourists, who were taken in custody, were transferred to the city theatre which had temporarily been turned into a ‘filtration camp’.

“There have been reports on the Internet that Russian nationals have been injured. That’s not true, none of the city residents or tourists have been injured,” said the spokesman for the city’s security service, Yury Kondratiev.

Angered by their treatment, residents have demanded an explanation and apologies from the security services.

Kondratiev said, however, that his service had not received any complaints. “But we are aware some citizens intend to file complaints to the Prosecutor General’s office,” he added.

“I admit we have caused a certain discomfort to Sevastopol’s residents as the exercises were very similar to a real-life scenario. But organizing exercises in a place with no people around makes no sense,” explained Aleksandr Semin from the local mayor’s office. “Terror acts are always staged in crowded areas, so we need to train on real targets”.