Ukraine's new, pro-Western interim leaders have dissolved an elite security force accused of carrying out deadly attacks on protesters during recent demonstrations that ousted the country's pro-Russia leaders.
In a statement on his Facebook page Wednesday, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said he signed a decree disbanding the feared Berkut riot police. The special police force was accused of shooting and beating those taking part in the anti-government demonstrations in Kyiv.
The violence escalated last week with dozens of people killed.
President Viktor Yanukovych and his allies have since fled the capital. Interim authorities have since issued a warrant for his arrest.
Anti-government demonstrations erupted in Ukraine after Mr. Yanukovych rejected an European Union trade deal in favor of economic assistance from Russia, the country's former Soviet master.
There are now concerns that the nation of 46 million people could split into a pro-Russia east and pro-European Union west.
Top diplomats from the United States and Britain on Tuesday denied Ukraine faces an East-West divide.
Following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Washington and London hope Ukraine can form an "inclusive government."
But while Hague said the primary goal is a "free, democratic Ukraine," he does not view the situation as a "zero-sum" game.
"It is very important for Ukraine to be able to work closely with European nations and the European Union in good economic cooperation, but also of course to be able to cooperate with Russia on many issues, and so Secretary Kerry and I have both been talking to (Russian) Foreign Minister (Sergei) Lavrov over recent days and we will continue that contact with Russia as well."
Russia on Tuesday also insisted it would not interfere in Ukrainian politics. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it is "dangerous and counterproductive" to force the country into a choice between Russia and Europe.
Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov warned Tuesday in parliament that there are "very dangerous signs of separatism" in several parts of the country.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Turchynov announced that plans to elect a new national unity government would be postponed until Thursday.
The moves come as EU and U.S. leaders meet with Ukrainian leaders to work on ways that Western financial institutions can help Ukraine, which many say is on the verge of economic collapse.