News / USA

US Lawmakers Warn of Sanctions if Ukraine Violence Worsens

Pro-European integration protesters confront riot police at Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 11, 2013.
Pro-European integration protesters confront riot police at Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 11, 2013.
Reuters
U.S. lawmakers are considering legislation to deny visas to Ukrainian officials or freeze their U.S. assets if there is an escalation of violence against anti-government demonstrators.
 
Both Democrats and Republicans have condemned harsh measures during weeks of protests by hundreds of thousands of people protesting President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to scrap a trade deal with the European Union and steer Ukraine closer to Russia.
 
Concerns in the U.S. Congress rose after the Ukrainian authorities sent battalions of riot police with bulldozers into a protest camp overnight. Dozens of police and demonstrators were hurt in scuffles.
 
“We're going to be watching Yanukovich's conduct very carefully,” said Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, chairman of the Senate's Europe subcommittee.
 
“His conduct over the last 24 hours is unacceptable, and if he continues to use bulldozers and batons to break up peaceful demonstrations, there could be consequences, real consequences, from the Congress,” Murphy told Reuters.
 
Senate and House of Representatives aides said there have been discussions at the staff level about Congress responding to the unrest in Ukraine with sanctions, visa restrictions or legislation along the lines of the Magnitsky Act.
 
Congress passed the act last year in response to the 2009 death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian prison. The act bars Russian officials believed to be involved in human rights abuses from entering the United States, and freezes their assets in the country, angering Moscow.
 
Keen to thwart Russia's influence and protect human rights, the United States has harshly criticized the government in neighboring Ukraine this week, with Secretary of State John Kerry expressing “disgust” at the overnight sweep by police on Kiev's Maidan Square.
 
The State Department said on Wednesday it was considering all options, including sanctions.


 
U.S. lawmakers' intention on Ukraine is to put in place tough measures against the government that could be invoked quickly in case of a harsher response by Yanukovich. They hope the threat will influence the Kiev government to use restraint.
 
‘Demand consequences’
 
U.S. Senator John McCain, a leading Republican foreign policy voice, also condemned the violence.
 
“We will keep the world's attention on Ukraine's struggle for freedom, justice, and opportunity, and we will demand consequences for any crimes perpetrated against Ukrainians who are peacefully exercising their fundamental human rights,” McCain said in a statement.
 
The White House urged Yanukovich to abide by the will of the people and respect the right to peaceful assembly.
 
Ukraine's police have been criticized by the West for heavy-handedness in dealing with some protests even before the most recent crackdown. Dozens of protesters were hurt in clashes last week.
 
The United States and Ukraine have had a warm relationship in recent years, particularly in the 2004-2005 period. Ukraine was seen then as having a clearer Western orientation after the mass demonstrations of the Orange Revolution successfully overturned a fraudulent election victory by Yanukovich.
 
But despite a desire for stability in Ukraine and concern about its closer ties with Moscow, a favorite target of congressional criticism, lawmakers said they do not intend to send a message that Yanukovich, who won a second bid for the presidency in 2010, should be ousted.
 
“Yanukovich ... is a democratically elected leader, and traditionally, when a democratically elected leader screws up, the consequences come at the polls,” Murphy said.
 
“Our focus right now should be on pressuring Yanukovich to change his mind, not necessarily saying things or doing things that are going to spur more violence or the forceful removal of Yanukovich from power,” he added.

  • Pro-European Union activists shout as they listen to Ukranian opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok, during a rally in the Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • People pass by a barricade erected by pro-European integration protesters in central Kyiv, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union musicians perform in Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • People pick up food inside the Kyiv City Council building which is occupied by pro-European integration protesters, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists warm themselves near a bonfire and guard barricades on the main street Khreschatyk in Kyiv, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Interior Ministry personnel block a street in central Kyiv, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Pro-European integration protesters warm themselves by a fire in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Tents and belongings of pro-European integration protesters are seen near Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Riot police pull pro-European Union activists out from their camp in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Pro-European integration protesters standing behind barricades confront a line of riot police approaching at Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Pro-European integration protesters line up in front of riot police in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Riot police leave a bus after protesters threw a smoke bomb, outside City Hall in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid