U.S. HOUSE BACKS UKRAINE’S ‘DEMOCRATIC, EUROPEAN’ HOPES

Radio Free Europe on February 11, 2014, reported that the U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a resolution expressing support for “democratic and European aspirations” in Ukraine and calling on authorities there to respect democratic rights and free protest detainees. Excerpts below:

House Resolution 447 also states support for “the people of Ukraine[‘s]…right to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear.”

The resolution also calls on Ukrainian authorities to respect the rights of those Ukrainians protesting in Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine in support of a democratic future for their country.

Ukraine has been rocked by demonstrations since President Viktor Yanukovych balked at signing the association agreement in November.

The U.S. resolution also “calls on the Government of Ukraine to bring to justice those responsible for violence against peaceful protesters, and to release and drop criminal charges against those detained for exercising their democratic rights.”

It says Washington should consider targeted sanctions against officials who either engage in or authorize violence against protesters.

The resolution was introduced by Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York. It passed on February 10 by a vote of 381-2.

Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said those responsible for the use of excessive force against antigovernment protesters in Ukraine should be brought to justice.

Muiznieks visited Ukraine February 5-10, when his team interviewed dozens of people who were injured or detained during the protests and also met health professionals who had treated people for injuries.

In a statement on February 10, Muiznieks said: “It is not necessary to crack people’s skulls and knock out several of their teeth in order to apprehend them. At the same time, it is not necessary to aim rubber bullets at persons’ heads in order to bring a crowd under control or counter violence by protesters.”

He also voiced concern over cases of abductions and the use of nonofficial individuals to police demonstrations.

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