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Britain urges Ukrainian govt to respect people’s right to peaceful rallies

November 30, 2013, 20:32 UTC+3 LONDON
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LONDON, November 30, 20:24 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian authorities should respect people’s right to participation in peaceful actions of protest, Britain’s Minister of State for Europe David Lidington said in a statement Saturday.

British officials are highly concerned by the reports that Ukrainian police used force Saturday morning to disperse a peaceful manifestation, Lidington said, adding that the British authorities call on the Ukrainian government to honor the right of citizens to peaceful protests, since several more meetings have been scheduled for this weekend. Also, it is important to investigate the fact why the police did use force, he said.

Early morning Saturday, Ukrainian riot police units coerced oppositionist protesters to leave Kiev’s Independent Square /broadly known as the Maidan/ where they had been protesting against the decision of President Yanukovich and his administration to refrain from the signing of an association agreement with the EU - a document which the oppositionists vest many hopes in.

Yanukovich was supposed to sign it at a summit of the EU’s Eastern Partnership format in Vilnius, Lithuania, at the end of this workweek. However, Ukrainian government revised its decision to sign the act virtually at the last minute, saying all the economic aftermaths and benefits of a closer association with the EU were to be reviewed once again.

In the process of forcing the protesters out of the Maidan, twelve policemen and about 30 oppositionists received injuries.

Earlier in the day, the press service of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry released a report on the causes of the forcible action against the demonstrators on the Maidan.

“The police went over to active measures after the protesters had begun to offer resistance to the patrols, to hurl garbage, glasses and bottles with water at them and even tried to use burning wooden sticks against them,” the report said. “As a result, 35 people were detained. Administrative protocols on their offenses were filled out and the police set them free after that.”

The ministry promised “to do a departmental inquiry into the petitions from citizens on bodily damage they had received in the course of the confrontation /with the police/.” Olga Bilyk, a spokeswoman for the Kiev Interior Department, told reporters petitions over the infliction of bodily harm had been filed by 32 citizens. She also confirmed that the Interior officials would scrutinize all of these complaints.

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