At least ten people, including a former interior minister, were injured in the early hours of this morning in clashes between riot police and protesters outside a courthouse in Ukraine's capital Kiev.

In the first clashes since last month, police using tear gas and batons tried to disperse a couple of hundred people protesting against three activists being sentenced to six years in jail.

The case is seen by protesters as politically motivated.

About 10km away, several thousand people have set up camp in central Kiev to protest against President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to abandon a trade agreement with Europe in favour of closer cooperation with Russia.              

Protests began in late November and increased significantly in early December after riot police violently broke up a student demonstration in Kiev's main square.

Yuri Lutsenko, a minister in the government of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, was among the injured protesters.

Mr Lutsenko, pardoned last year by Mr Yanukovych, was hit in the head, witnesses said.

Police said in a statement they had no information about anyone being injured.