As global fears and misconceptions spread about the coronavirus outbreak that originated in the city, protesters blocked roads in the Ukrainian town of Noviy Sanzhari, where 72 evacuees are to be monitored for two weeks at a medical center. Ukraine has no diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said that “aggressive citizens” began to pelt the buses with stones, and that one man tried to hit police with a car.
“Those people who today threw stones at the evacuees … and law enforcement officers, injured nine police officers, one of them has serious injuries, we will make a decision on their punishment,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said.
Police opened criminal proceedings after the clash, the ministry said.
Video circulating on social media appeared to show residents protesting prior to the evacuees’ arrival, blocking roads and confronting police.
Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have sought to ease tensions over the returnees for the last two days.
In a show of solidarity, Ukraine’s Health Minister Zoriana Skaletska said Thursday that she would spend the 14-day quarantine “in the same space, the same conditions” as the evacuees.
She said in a Facebook post that her daughter turns 10 today, and apologized for not celebrating it with her. It is unclear whether she has already joined the returnees.
Zelensky urged Ukrainians to remember that “we are all human” and there was no danger, in a Facebook statement on Thursday