U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured in November 2013, expressed his "disgust" with the Ukrainian government's use of aggressive tactics against protestors in Kiev on December 11, 2013. (UPI/Uriel Sinai/Pool) | License Photo
The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv's Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity. This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy.
Last week in Brussels and Moldova, I underscored publicly the importance of all sides avoiding violence and called on President Yanukovych to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukranian people. We put the government on notice about our concern.
As Vice President Biden made clear to President Yanukovych during their phone call yesterday, respect for democratic principles, including freedom of assembly, is fundamental to the United States' approach to Ukraine. This is a universal value not just an American one. For weeks, we have called on President Yanukovych and his government to listen to the voices of his people who want peace, justice and a European future. Instead, Ukraine's leaders appear tonight to have made a very different choice.
We call for utmost restraint. Human life must be protected. Ukrainian authorities bear full responsibility for the security of the Ukrainian people.
As church bells ring tonight amidst the smoke in the streets of Kyiv, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine. They deserve better.
Demonstrations in Kiev began after President Yanukovich announced on November 21 that Ukraine would not sign a trade deal with the EU, a move that was seen as bowing to pressure from Russia and thwarting Ukraine's attempts to advance its economy.
Protesters were further enraged following a meeting last Friday between Yanukovich and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was seen by the opposition as further evidence of Ukrainian involvement in a Russian-led regional trade pact. On Sunday, protesters toppled a statue of Soviet leader hero Vladimir Lenin in Kiev.
[U.S. Department of State]