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Yanukovich condemns violence against demonstrators in Kiev

November 30, 2013, 23:19 UTC+3 KIEV
He promised to punish those responsible for the violence
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© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Javakhadze

KIEV, November 30, 23:02 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has condemned the use of force by police against demonstrators in Kiev last night.

“I condemn the actions that led to forceful confrontation and suffering of people,” the president said in an address to the nation on Saturday, November 30.

He promised to punish those responsible for the violence. “Several days ago I spoke in front of the whole country in support of civil non-violent actions. Those who did not hear the words from the Constitution and the President and provoked the conflict in the square by their decisions and actions will face penalties,” the president said.

The head of state urged the Prosecutor General’s Office to provide him and society with “the results of an immediate and objective investigation” in order to punish those responsible.

“I reaffirm that we are united in our choice of our common European future. I assure you with all responsibility that the efforts of the authorities are aimed at overcoming the crisis processes, strengthening the economy and improving the life of the people,” he said.

Ukraine needs joint work on an action plan that will “make the Ukrainian economy less vulnerable, protect jobs, salaries and pensions, and eventually allow us to raise them,” Yanukovich said.

“I believe in your wisdom and readiness for joint work for the sake of our European future,” the president said.

The prime minister’s spokesperson Vitaly Lukyanenko said earlier in the day that the government of Ukraine was not interested in provoking an escalation of tensions and remained committed to stability in the country.

“One thing is clear: the authorities are not interested in provocations. On the contrary, they are interested in stability and calm in the country,” he told the news agency UNIAN.

“The position of the prime minister is that it is necessary to conduct a thorough and objective investigation within the shortest time possible. A special task group has been set up for this purpose. It will conduct such an investigation, no matter what,” he said.

“The prime minister has stressed once again that those who express their protest peacefully and legally are not opponents, they are our citizens whose rights must be protected,” the spokesperson said. “By supporting European integration, they support the course the president and the government have steered and will steer.”

However the parliament’s human rights commissioner Valeria Lutkovskaya said she would ask the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate the police’s actions against demonstrators in Kiev.

“Having used brutal force, police stopped a peaceful assembly. Video recordings of those events, which are available to the general public, indicate that the physical force used by police was excessive,” she said.

Lutkovskaya invited all persons affected to send her their petitions and urged MPs to adopt a law on peaceful assemblies that would “set out clear rules for all peaceful assemblies” and contain “an exhaustive list of grounds for police interference in peaceful events.” It should also offer “strict rules regulating the use of special means to stop such events,” she added.

Meanwhile, two MPs have declared their secession from the ruling Party of Regions and its parliamentary faction. MP Inna Bogoslovskaya said she had made her decision after the police had dispersed the rally in the centre of Kiev.

She believes that Yanukovich should ask the European Union to convene an extraordinary Ukraine-EU summit to sign an association agreement.

MP David Zhvania also announced his decision to leave the party. Media reports say several other MPs may follow their suit.

The statements followed an overnight police raid to drive protesters out of Kiev’s central Independence Square where they had been rallying against the Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend the preparations for signing the Association Agreement with the European Union.

In the morning, at least 35 people requested medical attention, Kiev’s emergency aid station Head Anatoly Vershigora said.

He said seven people had received medical attention and left but 21 had to be taken to hospitals.

Ambulances were called nine times to Kiev’s Shevchenkovsky district police station, where the protesters had been brought from the square, seven people were taken to hospitals and two checked in for medical treatment.

Police said 32 people had filed their complaints. The spokesperson for the Interior Ministry’s Department for Kiev, Olga Bilyk, said all complaints from people who had received bodily injuries would be studied.

“All complaints will be thoroughly studied and an investigation will be conducted,” she said, adding that police were questioning those who had been taken to hospitals with injuries after the police action.

Bilyak told Channel 5 earlier that the police had to act after the protesters had refused to let city services to prepare the square for New Year holidays. Instead the protesters “started throwing cans, burning sticks and other objects at them. It was decided then to use the Berkut special unit that stopped the disorders using special means,” she said.

The Interior Ministry said later that the Berkut members acted forcefully after the protesters had put up resistance to police and started throwing litter, glasses, bottles of water and burning sticks at them. As a result, 35 people were detained. After administrative protocols had been executed, they were let go.

Police denied reports about the death of a young woman during the events in Independence Square. An inquest “did not confirm this report,” police said.

Kiev police chief Valery Koryak said 12 policemen had been injured during the overnight events.

Kiev’s investigative department has opened two criminal cases: one for resistance to police and the other one for acts of hooliganism.

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