Ukrainian ambassador called to meeting with foreign minster
Violence and laws restricting protestors and free speech called deeply troubling
As the violence and death toll in Ukraine continues to rise, Danish Foreign Minister Holger Nielsen called Mykhailo Skuratovskyi, the Ukrainian ambassador to Denmark, to a meeting to discuss the volatile situation.
Nielsen expressed concern at the rising numbers of dead and injured as well as the legislation recently passed by the Ukrainian government that restricts protesters' rights and brands outside aid agencies and NGOs as “foreign agents”, effectively banning them from working in the country.
“It is important to emphasise to the Ukrainian government that we are deeply concerned about the situation in Ukraine and call on both the Ukrainian government and the opposition to find a peaceful political solution to the crisis,” Nielsen said in a statement. “I am strongly opposed to the severe violence we have seen in recent days.”
Nielsen called it “deeply troubling” that civil organisations were being prevented from working in Ukraine.
Ambassador: We are open to talks
Skuratovskyi said that his government is ready to meet with both the opposition and international groups.
“The authorities of Ukraine shall take maximum efforts for a peaceful solution to the crisis within the framework of existing legislation,” Skuratovskyi told The Copenhagen Post. "In this regard, Ukrainian President Yanukovych has participated in the meetings of the working group established with leaders of the opposition parliamentary factions to resolve the political crisis.”
Skuratovskyi said that officials from Ukraine are ready to engage in what he called “expert consultations” with international partners concerning the laws adopted earlier this month.
“We are interested in getting their recommendations on the implementation of this legislation with regard to the best practices of the EU Member States and other countries,” Skuratovskyi said.
Yanukovych set off the protests in November when he went back on a promise to sign political and free trade agreements with the European Union and opted instead for financial aid from Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.
After Yanukovych failed to defuse the crisis by offering concessions to opposition leaders, anti-government protests spread yesterday into southern and eastern Ukraine.
At least four demonstrators were killed during battles with the police last week, and evidence of kidnappings and abuse by the authorities has many protesters now saying they will settle for nothing less than Yanukovych’s resignation.
International human rights groups have expressed outrage over the deaths and disappearances of protest leaders and the laws limiting freedom of speech and assembly. Yanukovych said that he would consider amending some of the legislation, but opposition leaders have said they want the laws repealed.