Foreign minister criticises undemocratic Ukrainian law

Denmark has joined the chorus of nations chastising the Ukrainian government for passing a new law that will limit the public’s ability to stage demonstrations and publicly voice their discontent.

As more than 100,000 Ukrainians took to the streets to protest the law on January 16, several world leaders, including the Danish foreign minister, Holger K Nielsen (SF), voiced their concern over the law.

“I am very concerned about the new anti-protest laws which the Ukrainian parliament ratified yesterday [Jan 16],” Nielsen said in a press release. “Demonstrators' ability to gather and express themselves freely will be reduced if this law comes into effect and that is a highly problematic development that is pulling Ukraine farther away from Europe.”

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Russia over the EU
The passing of the controversial law is the latest move by the Viktor Yanukovych-led Ukrainian government to distance themselves from EU co-operation after it rejected an economic association with the EU in favour of an agreement with Russia.

Demonstrators in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev were met by riot police who fired tear gas into the masses and attacked them with police batons.

Nielsen said that he was concerned about police violence at the demonstrations and urged the government to instead initiate dialogue with the opposition, which includes former heavyweight boxing champion Vitalij Klitschko.

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EU still willing to deal
The Danish foreign minister went on to underline that the EU is still keeping the door open for a possible agreement with Ukraine.

“From a Danish perspective, we will continue our engagements in Ukraine, particularly promoting reform of the judiciary system, the public sector and the development of free media and civil society,” Nielsen said.

The new anti-protest law, which forbids using speakers and setting up tents in public spaces and carries considerable fines and possible prison sentences, passed in the Ukrainian parliament by a 235-215 vote.