Ukraine's opposition has called on European powers to sanction members of the government, hours after Ukraine's former interior minister turned current opposition leader Yurliy Lutsenko was hospitalized from being beaten in clashes between demonstrators and police.
Lutsenko's wife said Saturday he is in intensive care after riot police beat him several times in the head and he lost consciousness. She said her husband came to a demonstration in Kyiv late Friday to persuade police not to use violence against pro-European Union demonstrators.
Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Klitschko says he has asked European leaders to consider personal sanctions against government members. He said that while EU members in Germany seemed hopeful Friday that Ukrainian authorities would not use force against citizens ever again, their mood on Saturday was different.
The violence started after a Kyiv court sentenced three men to six years in prison for a 2011 plot to blow up a statue of Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin.
Local news reports in Ukraine aired footage of badly beaten protestors, including Lutsenko. Opposition leaders say at least 11 protesters were taken to the hospital, while the Interior Ministry says about 20 police officers were injured in the clashes.
Anti-government protesters have filled the streets of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed positions and refused to sign a trade deal with the European Union, opting instead for stronger ties with Russia. Since then, Moscow has promised to buy $15 billion in Ukrainian debt and cut the price of Russian gas to Ukraine to strengthen the struggling economy.
The demonstrators are calling on the government to honor its promise to sign the deal with the EU.