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Adrienne Warren

Two Days In The Hottest Scene: Catherine Ashton Visits Ukraine

During a two day working visit to Ukraine, EU High Representative and Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton warned Ukrainian officials over on-going claims of brutality and violence against protesting Ukrainian citizens. Ashton called on Ukraine to exercise the utmost restraint after police reportedly raided the offices of the country’s main opposition party less than 24 hours before she was due to arrive in Kyiv in an effort to mitigate negotiations between the EU and Ukraine. And it was only the first act…

Jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s opposition party Batkivshchyna, or Fatherland, reported that on Monday 9 December police forcibly entered its Kyiv headquarters and removed computer servers in an apparent effort to gather evidence for a future criminal investigation. Ashton released a statement late Monday addressing the events, saying:

“On the eve of my visit to Kyiv, I follow with concern the reports that police forces forcibly entered the office of the biggest opposition party, Batkivshchyna. This comes on the afternoon of the same day that President Yanukovych proposed the establishment of a national roundtable, bringing together the leaders of all political forces and the three former Presidents of Ukraine. These latest events seriously risk to derail the process. I call on the Ukrainian authorities to exercise utmost restraint and refrain from any further use of force, in order to give space for a negotiated solution out of the current political stalemate.””

However, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has spoken of the crackdown on protesters, saying:

“There are guilty on both sides. I am not a supporter of reacting harshly and having people judged.”

A new start?

Protests of Ukraine’s decision to suspend negotiations with the EU have shown no signs of stopping–as this marks their third consecutive week. But Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych slammed opposition calls for revolution as a “threat to national security” as he met with former Prime Ministers  Leonid Kuchma, Leonid Kravchuk and Viktor Yushchenko in an attempt to consult on a resolution to the uprising.

Speaking to Ukrainian media, Yanukovych said:

“Calls for a revolution pose a threat to national security. I want that this dark page is turned and is never allowed to happen again.”

Opposition leaders have said they would not negotiate with President Yanukovych until the government of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigns. Former leaders Kuchma and Kravchuk reportedly emphasised the feasibility of this request, reiterating that prime ministers had stepped down before, and Azarov could do the same.

“She’s Kind of a Big Deal”…

The 10th of December also marked the occasion of International Human Rights, for which Catherine Ashton also released a statement, perhaps apropos in view of the events unfolding in Ukraine:

One year ago, the EU adopted its Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, and appointed our first Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis.  Since then, we have focused on ensuring that human rights and democracy are mainstreamed throughout the EU’s external action. The EU remains determined to promote the respect for and protection of all human rights of all persons around the world. We are concerned by the increasing level of intimidation, violence and censorship that the media and human rights defenders face in many countries. Our thoughts go out today to all those who are subject to persecution because they defend human rights. The EU will continue to offer unwavering support for human rights and democracy, and those who defend them.”

Ashton’s presence in Ukraine was met with overwhelming support from many of the Ukrainian public–as Ashton traveled to the Ukrainian capital to negotiated agreements with President Viktor Yanukovych. The meeting was announced President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso following a phone conversation with President Victor Yanukovych on Sunday, 8 December “against the background of continuing mass demonstrations in Kiev.”

sources: President of Ukraine, Yahoo, Daily Telegraph

Postscriptum: Wednesday 11 December

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Graduated in International Relations and Russian. Resident of Estonia, but a citizen of the world. Most interested in contributing to the progress and education of mankind--as the primary tool of achieving global unity.

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