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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid