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International community condemns use of force against protesters in Kiev

November 30, 2013, 22:53 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

Catherine Ashton also condemned “the excessive use of force by the police” in Kiev and said about great support for Ukraine

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WASHINGTON, November 30, 22:32 /ITAR-TASS/. The United States condemned the violence by government authorities against peaceful demonstrators in Kiev last night.

“We urge Ukraine’s leaders to respect their people’s right to freedom of expression and assembly. These are fundamental to a healthy democracy and the respect for universal values on which the United States’ partnership with Ukraine depends,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement on Saturday, November 30.

She urged the Ukrainian government “to foster a positive environment for civil society and to protect the rights of all Ukrainians to express their views on their country's future in a constructive and peaceful manner in Kiev and in other parts of the country.” Psaki stressed that “violence and intimidation should have no place in today’s Ukraine”.

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy on last night's events in Ukraine Stefan Fule also strongly condemned what they called “the excessive use of force last night by the police” in Kiev to disperse peaceful protesters, who were expressing, “in a strong and unprecedented manner,” their support for Ukraine's political association and economic integration with the EU.

“This support had been welcomed yesterday by the participants of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit. The unjustified use of force goes against the principles to which all participants of the Vilnius Summit, including the President of Ukraine, yesterday reaffirmed their adherence,” Ashton and Fule said in a joint statement.

They called on Ukraine, also in its capacity as Chairmanship in Office of the OSCE, hosting its Ministerial Conference on December 5-6 in Kiev, “to fully abide by its international commitments to respect the freedom of expression and assembly.”

They also urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the Ukrainian authorities “to carry out investigations into the events last night and to hold responsible those who acted against the basic principles of freedom of assembly and of expression.”

Linas Linkevicius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, which now holds the rotating presidency in the European Union, expressed concern about the overnight events in Ukraine.

“Use of force against peaceful protesters in the centre of Kiev is reprehensible. We urge the Ukrainian government to respect human rights and ensure compliance with the principles of the rule of law. We are carefully following the events in Ukraine,” Linkevicius said.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said the Ukrainian riot police had “brutally dispersed” several hundred participants of a pro-European rally who demonstrated in support of Ukraine’s European integration in Kiev.

“Forceful dispersion of peaceful demonstrations does not help the cause of Ukraine's integration with Europe. We caution Ukrainian authorities against using force as it may carry unpredictable and irrevocable consequences,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marcin Wojciechowski said in a statement.

He recalled that at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius this week, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich had assured the heads of state and government present there that Ukraine intended to maintain its pro-European course and, in the short term, it wanted to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. “We appeal to Ukrainian authorities to act consistently with their declarations,” the spokesperson said.

He stressed the need for “peaceful and political methods” in resolving Ukraine's social conflicts an expressed hope that “force and violence will give way to dialogue and agreement.”

“Poland declares its strong support for such actions. We are also resolved to continue efforts aimed at building the best possible relations with the Ukrainian state and society,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry expressed solidarity with representatives of the Ukrainian society peacefully demonstrating for a pro-European future of their country.

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