PES deplores violent crackdown on protesters in Kiev, calls for dialogue

Protester in Kiev

The PES notes with growing concern the escalating violence in Ukraine resulting in the deaths of at least five protesters. Tensions increased after the parliament unexpectedly passed a number of laws restricting freedom of assembly and ensuring tighter control over civil society. The laws were swiftly passed by a show of hands, further infuriating protesters in the street. The government also blocked a protest march last Sunday and sent warning text messages to those attending protest marches on Tuesday.

“We are shocked to see such a rapid rise of violence in Ukraine and we send our condolences to the victims and their families”, says PES president Sergei Stanishev, “We strongly condemn all forms of violence and we call on all those involved to show restraint. It is time for the Ukrainian government to start a sincere dialogue with all opposition parties involved and come to a peaceful solution that is fully supported by the Ukrainian people.”

“We respect and support the rights of the protesters to express their legitimate demands for freedom, democracy and human rights”, continues President Stanishev, “We condemn the newly approved laws that restrict the freedoms of protesting citizens and civil society in Ukraine. Freedom of speech and assembly are fundamental rights and cornerstones of the European democratic model. The Ukrainian people are entitled to enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms. Ukraine has dealt peacefully with protesters in the past couple of years and we hope it will return to that path.”

The protests started in November after the Ukrainian government refused to sign a free trade agreement as part of the European Partnership Programme, and turned to Russia for deepened cooperation. The Eastern Partnership offers a long term perspective to those countries aspiring to join the EU. They are a catalyst for change and reforms which eventually lead to increased prosperity and growth. The PES has always been in favour of enhanced cooperation with our Eastern neighbours, provided certain conditions with regards to rule of law, fundamental rights and protection of minorities are met.