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Dec-05-2013 12:32printcomments

Police Attack on Kyiv's EuroMaidan Demonstrators Draws International Outrage

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who has not been afraid to speak his mind about Yanukovych’s recent decisions, wrote on Twitter that the attacks in Kyiv were “worrying” and that Sweden was following events closely.

Demonstrators take refuge in St. Michael's monastery in Kyiv
Demonstrators take refuge in St. Michael's monastery in Kyiv. Numerous news media outlets and eyewitnesses say police forcefully broke up the overnight protests on Maidan Nezalezhnosti about 4 a.m. Some people say police beat everyone in sight indiscriminately.
© Kostyantyn Chernichkin

(KYIV, Ukraine) - After riot police stormed Kyiv's Independence Square early today and used violence to remove 400 peaceful demonstrators, Western diplomats quickly condemned the brutality.

Berkut, Ukraine’s feared riot police, raided the EuroMaidan camp at Maidan Nezalezhnosti just after 4 a.m. Dozens were reportedly hospitalized, while many others sought sanctuary at nearby St. Michael's monastery.

Some 10,000 demonstrators as well as opposition leaders turned out to the square on the night before to protest the Ukrainian government’s decision to abandon a long-anticipated association agreement with the European Union and to demand the resignations of President Viktor Yanukovych and the government of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who has not been afraid to speak his mind about Yanukovych’s recent decisions, wrote on Twitter that the attacks in Kyiv were “worrying” and that Sweden was following events closely.

“Repression against pro-EU manifestations in Kiev deeply worrying,” he said.

The country’s ambassador to Ukraine, Andreas von Beckerath, wrote on Twitter, “Very disturbing reports on police brutality at Maida(n). Violence against peaceful demonstrators unacceptable and opposite of EU-integration.”

European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele, who has been a cheerleader for Ukraine's signing of the association and free trade deals with the 28-member bloc, wrote on Twitter that Ukrainian authorities "refrained from signing the (association and free trade deals) but they should not refrain from respecting freedom of assembly&expression."

Edgars Rinkevics, Lativian minister of foreign affairs, also on Twitter wrote: "Disturbing news from Ukraine, I condemn police violence against proeuropean demonstration in Kyiv."

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said that "President Yanukovych is miscalculating badly as regards the Association Agreement with EU and towards the people of Ukraine."

Both past and present U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine also condemned the violence.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said that he “obviously condemn(s)” the actions of riot police today and would have more to say on the matter. Pyatt this week warned against violence against peaceful protesters at EuroMaidan on the part of authorities. He said that such actions would strain U.S.-Ukrainian relations, and that sanctions against members of Ukraine’s government were not out of the question.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukriane Steven Pifer wrote on Twitter that he was saddened to hear of the violence against protesters and warned that the events were not in line with Western values.

“Yanukovych use of force against protestors in Ukraine is dangerous turn in events. Will further isolate him from EU and U.S.,” he said. "Bet many EU leaders now who are very glad they did NOT sign EU-Ukraine association agreement."

In a statement posted to its website, the U.S. Embassy formally condemned this morning’s violence. “We urge the government of Ukraine to respect the rights of civil society and the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, which are fundamental to the democratic values that are the bedrock of our strategic partnership,” the statement reads. “We support the rights of citizens to air their views through an open and free media and through non-violent rallies.”

The embassy’s statement also touched on Ukraine’s current chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In assuming this earlier this year, Prime Minister Azarov said that Ukraine would make human rights, media freedom and conflict resolution priorities during its chairmanship.

“In the spirit of the principles embodied by the OSCE, we urge the Government of Ukraine to foster a positive atmosphere for civil society and for the free exchange and expression of opinions among the citizens of Ukraine,” reads the embassy’s statement.

Kyiv Post editor Christopher J. Miller can be reached at, and on Twitter at @ChristopherJM.

Source: Kyiv Post



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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.