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West criticizes Kiev for anti-protest legislation

on January 17, 2014 10:00 AM

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian leaders came under fire from the West today for passing sweeping anti-protest legislation amid demonstrations against the government that have rocked Kiev for nearly two months.

Despite fistfights and noisy protests from the opposition, the Ukrainian parliament, dominated by President Viktor Yanukovych’s loyalists, passed a flurry of bills Thursday that would curb the rights to protest, free speech and the activity of nongovernmental organizations.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said today she is “deeply concerned” by the legislation and called on Yanukovych to revise it. The bills have yet to be signed by the president.

Steffen Seibert, a spokes-man for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters in Berlin that the decision would “inevitably have consequences for the cooperation with the European Union.” He did not give further specifics.

In a statement released late Thursday, the U.S. State Department called the laws “undemocratic” and said they contradict Ukraine’s aspiration to a European future.

AP reporter Frank Jordans contributed to this story from Berlin.

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