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25 Jan, 2022 23:39

WATCH: Protesters attempt to storm Ukrainian parliament

Business owners have been protesting for months against changes to the tax system that took effect this year
WATCH: Protesters attempt to storm Ukrainian parliament

Chaotic scenes unfolded in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev on Tuesday, as representatives of small and medium-sized businesses tried to break into the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament. 

Photos and videos that surfaced on social media show people waving Ukrainian flags and other banners as they march through the center of Kiev.

Police closed off some of the roads and diverted traffic from the route of the march. Tensions flared between officers and demonstrators as they gathered in front of the parliament building. 

Videos published on social media show several people attempting to break through the police cordon. Officers in full riot gear stood their ground, pushing the protesters away from the entrance to the building. 

There were reports in local media that lawmakers were evacuated through an underground tunnel, and that only police officers and representatives of the media were allowed to stay in the building as the standoff continued outside.

Three protesters and 18 officers were injured, police said in a statement. At least 20 protesters were detained, according to the media.

Police have launched several criminal investigations over hooliganism and violence against law enforcement officers. Police denied earlier media reports that one person was killed during the protests, noting that a man who fell ill during the protest was given first aid by officers. 

There have been ongoing protests by business owners against changes to the tax system since late 2020. Opponents of the policy of President Volodymyr Zelensky demand that the law making the use of cash registers mandatory for almost all businesses be repealed, and a simplified system of taxation, accounting, and reporting be introduced. The protesters have also taken issue with the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.  

The law, which was signed by Zelensky in 2020 but did not take full effect until January 2022, mandates the use of special cash registers that log every transaction for purposes of taxation, with steep fines for non-compliance. Despite the protests, it went into effect on January 1.