News / Europe

    EU Warns Against Ukraine Violence as Talks Fail to Ease Tensions

    Ukraine Crisis Deepens As Protesters Shot Deadi
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    January 23, 2014 2:11 AM
    Clashes between protesters and riot police continued Wednesday in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. At least two protesters were killed, the first fatalities since the current anti-government demonstrations began in November. The U.S. State Department has condemned the violence, calling on Ukraine's government to launch a dialogue with the country's political opposition. The violence comes as sweeping new anti-protest laws came into force, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
    Henry Ridgwell
    Ukrainian opposition leaders emerged from crisis talks with President Viktor Yanukovich on Wednesday saying he had failed to give concrete answers to their demands, and told their supporters on the streets to prepare for a police offensive.

    Boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko told the thousands of protesters gathered in Kyiv's Independence Square that during three hours of talks the president remained vague about opposition demands that his government be dismissed and sweeping anti-protest laws ditched.

    WATCH: Related video from VOA
    Protests Continue into Thursday in Ukrainei
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    January 23, 2014 7:40 AM
    More violence erupted in Ukraine early Thursday, just hours after opposition leaders threatened more confrontations if President Viktor Yanukovych fails to meet their demand to call for new elections within 24 hours.

    Emotions were high as clashes between protesters and riot police continued Wednesday in Kyiv, leaving at least two dead, the first fatalities since the current anti-government demonstrations began in November.

    The U.S. State Department and the European Union both condemned the violence, which erupted as sweeping new anti-protest laws came into force.

    In the morning, Ukrainian police were met with volleys of Molotov cocktails and rocks as they stormed the demonstrators’ barricades near the square.  At least two demonstrators were shot dead by police, according to witnesses.
     
    Authorities deny involvement and say security forces are not carrying live ammunition.

    In Washington, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman condemned the latest violence, and said the Obama administration is considering sanctions against the government, if President Yanukovych "fails to protect the democratic rights of all Ukrainians, including the rights of peaceful protest." 

    Marie Harf blamed the violence on both the government and far-right extremists. She said the rightists are "inflaming conditions on the streets and undermining the efforts of peaceful protestors."
     
    European Commission President José Manuel Barroso warned Ukraine to end the violent crackdown.  He said he was "shocked" by the deaths of protesters and that Ukrainian authorities have "the fundamental responsibility" to de-escalate the crisis.
     
    "We will continue following closely these developments as well as assessing possible actions by the European Union and consequences for our relations with that country," he told reporters.
     
    Russia has accused the EU and the United States of interfering in Ukraine’s domestic affairs. New laws came into force Wednesday, banning makeshift protest camps and giving police sweeping powers of arrest.
     
    Orysia Lutsevych from the London-based policy institute Chatham House says the law changes have set Ukraine back decades.
     
    “Now, with the amendments, criminal proceedings can take place in courts without the presence of the defendant," she said. "Also the freedom of media will be substantially limited by the criminalization of libel. In addition, the laws simplify the way that members of parliament can be stripped of their immunity."
     
    Opposition groups blame the clashes on a little-known far-right group called "Right Sector." protesters also claim the government is paying people to provoke the violence as a pretext for the clampdown -- a charge authorities deny.
     
    Andrew Wilson of University College London says the ground for compromise is shrinking.
     
    “The authorities are dug in. There are people who want to carry on the protests regardless," he said. "And there’s an election due in February 2015; partly the opposition doesn’t think it’s ever going to be fair, so they say ‘why wait, why not protest now'.”
     
    The protests erupted in November after Ukraine backed out of an Association Agreement with the European Union. Instead, Yanukovich signed energy and loan deals with old ally Russia.
     
    According to Lutsevych, the debate over Ukraine’s future direction - east to Russia or west to Europe - has split the country.
     
    “The tipping point could be which part of this population will be more determined to define the future," she said. "And to my observations, part of the population in the east is so far more of a passive observer."
     
    In defiance of the new laws, thousands of protesters began to regroup in Kyiv’s Independence Square Wednesday evening. Among them was Andrei Avramenko, who said that if the protesters lose then everything will be even worse, adding that "we will need to stand our ground."
     
    Analysts say the fatalities mark a new chapter in Ukraine’s deepening political crisis - galvanizing the protests, with neither side prepared to give any ground.

    • A man holds a Ukrainian flag as smoke rises in the background during clashes between police and pro-European protesters in Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • Protesters run away from a stun grenade as they clash with police in central Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • A police officer beats a protester during clashes in central Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • Riot police hold a man during clashes with pro-European protesters in Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • A pro-European protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with police in Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • Pro-European protesters take cover behind a bus during clashes with riot police in Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • Protesters clash with police in central Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • A woman reacts as riot police push pro-European protesters during a rally in Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • A pro-European protester gestures, with riot police officers seen in the background, during a rally in Kyiv, Jan. 22, 2014.


    Some information in this report was provided by Reuters.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Vasily from: Ukraine
    January 22, 2014 10:26 PM
    to all of our American friends, greetings.
    at this point no one is in control. riots everywhere. there is no coordination, just rage at the brutality and injustice and sheer frustration. please do not listen to political "leaders" because there are no leaders here. and please do not try to sound "leaders" of your own making on TV "instant leaders" who will affect to speak in our name. as i told you - there are no leaders here. one other thing, i can not tell you how deeply disappointed all of us are at the conspicuous cowardice of your Obama. we hope you are as ashamed of him as we are.
    if i live to see tomorrow, i'll post another thread... wish us luck. we are fighting for our freedom, and we are willing to pay the ultimate price for it
    In Response

    by: david from: ohio USA
    January 26, 2014 1:28 PM
    hello vasily from ukraine

    i know ameicans are dumb(i am one) last year or two years ago. USA took away our right to protest also. accept the passed the law under "black friday" if you do not know what black friday is, its a shopping day where people get trampled to death..

    my point being is im sorry for what is happeneing to your country. your people are smart, and not willing to let government take total control....

    as an american we used to be able to protest.....now we have to sign papers to see if we can protest(so i guess no protesting against the government since we have to ask government to protest)

    In Response

    by: kenny from: uk
    January 24, 2014 10:56 PM
    what is happening with you, i fear will spread here in the uk and across the globe, freedom is trying to be snuffed out everywhere, the ruling elite are in every country
    In Response

    by: Drake from: Budapest, Hungary
    January 24, 2014 3:26 AM
    Good luck Vasily. I am planning on taking a trip to Kyiv to take photos and cover a story on the fighting between the protesters and the government to show to the Hungarian and American people. I hope that the violence will end quickly and your intergration into the European Union is even quicker. As for the American gentleman who posted, I really enjoy your ignorance. You willingness to aide your world neighbors is duelly noted.
    In Response

    by: Way from: Seattle WA
    January 23, 2014 2:46 AM
    @vasily
    Hey man, we got our own problems here too so why don't you go cry to Bill Gates or some other jerk billionaire. We common citizens are sick of everybody crying for American intervention when most of us are going broke so fix your own damn country, jerk.
    In Response

    by: Peter from: UK
    January 23, 2014 2:28 AM
    Vasily, the shame of Obama is being felt across the world, not only by the Americans... the US closest allies are embarrassed and humiliated by this Muslim Brotherhood idiot.
    In Response

    by: K14 from: Germany
    January 23, 2014 2:24 AM
    good luck to you, i know that many of us will be looking forward to your comments. please continue your thread under "Vasily". our "news" have just interviewed Ukrainian "leader" of the opposition, and we remembered what you told us - there are no leaders!!! you are very wise to anticipate the BS that we are getting here. be safe, Putin is out to kill everyone

    by: Steven Nsubuga from: Uganda
    January 22, 2014 9:44 PM
    Dictatorship must be fought everywhere, however, its quite appaling when the EU, USA seem to give a go ahead in Uganda where a dictator of 30 years has used even more brutal force including murder to protesters in Kampala, yet European countries continue to shower this dictator with your tax euros and dollars, but in Ukraine..its a different story, why? Please, American and Europeans, apply the same pressure to all dictators. I bet the dictator we have here in Uganda by the name of Y.K.Museveni is the worst Africa has ever seen. He has killed in Rwanda, Congo, and now in S.Sudan. Im still to hear from Obama, Cameron and the EU. Yet in Ukraine, Syria, Iran, they are always on the fore front to fight for those people's freedom. We are people too. Say something about the dictator you are sponsoring here in Uganda.

    by: xavier from: France
    January 22, 2014 2:37 PM
    To all the influent organisation and nation in the world:
    You are capable to make the things change in Ukraine with real action and not only words which only satisfy your conscience as a human being. It's realy time to act, Ukrainian citizens are tired now and risk their life for their children in the name of the liberty.
    I am french, my wife is Ukrainian, we live in France and we can't see anymore the lack of courage that Europe and USA are showing. Ukrainian citizens are in Kiev standing in the street with minus 13 degrees Celsius hoping anything which looks like democracy.
    Their futurs are in your hands

    In Response

    by: xavier from: France
    January 23, 2014 1:58 PM
    Kamil,
    Listen "close mind", I disagree with quite a lot of decision that my country made especialy on the geopolitic way. Don't judge on this way, you are no one on this earth to be able to define my people on this way. As a believer of a better world with part of my family is in the center of Kiev building the barricade, I give my support to them and I am ready to act also from my side to help this cause.The problem in this world is the non open mind people like you who don't read enough what they don't know. And by the way I am Muslim..
    In Response

    by: Kamil from: Ukraine
    January 22, 2014 4:13 PM
    We do not want the French "help"... thank you very much... Ukrainians still remember the "help" you gave to Czechoslovakia in 1938... listen fool, our education system here is pretty solid - historically. And on a more recent note, we also remember how fast you caved for the Iran nuclear stuff... so please don't offer us any help... we will fight our own fights... and you may keep the French hypocrisy to yourselves... our problems are the global problems - Islam. France is consumed by Muslims, so what help could you offer us?? so, you had better shut up and attend to your own problems

    by: Vasily from: Ukraine
    January 22, 2014 1:49 PM
    to all our American friends, greetings.
    by now you have heard the division in our country between East and West... the Eastern part of our country composed by Russian infiltrators, the Western part is where we are, the people who want a liberal democracy... however, there are disturbing signs in our ranks that just want chaos and to inflict damage and harm others... a Neo-Nazi group... that has sprouted in reaction to the squalid and brutal Islamic inundation from Turkey and Iran and Arab countries... believe it, its true. at this point i don't know if they are just Russian infiltrators or a real endemic local people... but the Neo-Nazi groups here are gaining popularity... nobody wants Islam here... we may have started something here that will be a European reaction to the filth of Islam in Europe... we will have to sort this thing out for ourselves.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    January 22, 2014 12:30 PM
    Meddle maniac Europe! Welcome to Kyiv. How this mechanism of sponsored protests work I can never know. But suffice it to say kudos to the planners in both Europe and America. It's a good job at that. Think that's what you guys out there are planning to do to belief in celestial abode. See the handiwork in terrorism everywhere - Asia, Africa, Middle East and even in Europe. Imagine how this machinery is used to scuttle Assad in Syria, Gaddafi in Libya, Mubarak in Egypt... and still counting. But what we want now is peace, not all that cacophony just to satisfy the craving of a few. The government wants the best for its citizens, is it because those in support of the government are not on the streets protesting also? What happens to the ballot box? When is the next election in Ukraine? Can a regime not change what another regime has built up? Or must everything happen NOW?
    In Response

    by: Ron from: UK
    January 22, 2014 9:50 PM
    haha says the guy from country where violence is as common as seeing someone drive to work in the morning. Nigeria is the last place I would accept advice from, after all 50% of your people survive scamming ebay.

    Ukrainian government does not hold anyones interest but it's own and that is why it's happening. Corruption, lies, looting is what Ukrainian people are sick of. Before you comment please research the issue. Peace
    In Response

    by: Natalia from: New York
    January 22, 2014 4:47 PM
    Yes, it should be stopped now. The "sponsored" or simply bought are Yanukovich's supporters: for 200-400 grivnas/day. The pay is for standing within a caged area in the Mar'insky park, or for provocations (the latter is being done by semi-athletic/criminal provocateurs (so called "titushki") to create chaos in the streets of Kiev and terrorize the citizens). Ukraine is on the way off a cliff, keeping the same means crushing.The people try to stop and hit the breaks. The government wants to keep it steady: to steal and sell everything left, including the latest loan from Russia. Yanukovich's gang brought the economy to the brink of default, implemented dictatorship laws, de facto cancelled the parliament. If they are not stopped and toppled now, there will be no elections in 2015, no hopes for future and even no independence.

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