MOSCOW, April 17 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine's Berkut riot police, a force disbanded by authorities in Kiev after being blamed for the deaths of protesters, had served honourably in the line of duty.
Answering a question from a former Berkut officer in televised call-in with the nation, Putin told him "there is no doubt you and your colleagues ... professionally and honourably carried out your duty."
He said the decision to disband the force after deadly clashes during protests that ousted President Viktor Yanukovich would "backfire for the Ukrainian state because you cannot humiliate fighters and make kneel fighters who are defending the interests of the state." (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Additional reporting by Polina Devitt; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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