The Ukrainian community in Great Britain is profoundly shocked at the violence in Ukraine over the last 24 hours which has led to deaths and bloodshed on the streets of Kyiv. Around 20 Ukrainians have died, civilians and police, with about 1000 injured and wounded, some seriously. 

The responsibility for the bloodshed rests firmly and personally with President Yanukovych who has persistently failed to engage in constructive dialogue to seek a lasting resolution to the political turmoil that he and his government created. The recent negotiations with opposition leaders which led to the protesters vacating occupied government buildings, and agreement to constitutional and other reforms, created some hope that a peaceful solution could be found. Those hopes have been destroyed, first by the refusal of Parliamentary Speaker Rybak to allow any discussion on constitutional reform and then by the police violence and brutality against protesters which has led to over 20 civilian and police deaths and hundreds of wounded and injured.

The Association of Ukrainians does not condone violence, but we understand the frustration of protesters in the face of a government which refuses to acknowledge their reasonable demands for human and democratic rights. It has now become clear that President Yanukovych is prepared to use riot police and internal forces to clear the protests through violence and is prepared to see his own people killed rather than pursue a path of peaceful and constructive dialogue. 

The EU, Western governments and the US have given President Yanukovych every chance to resolve the situation peacefully, but their diplomatic efforts have failed. It is now time to take firm action against all those in the Ukrainian government and their backers who are responsible for violence, deaths and abuses of human rights. We therefore call on the UK Government, all Western Governments and the EU:

  • To call in all Ukrainian Ambassadors as a matter of urgency and demand an explanation of the Ukrainian government’s actions and, in particular, the use of live ammunition against civilians;
  • To implement personal sanctions against President Yanukovych, Government Ministers and Government officials who are responsible for the violence against civilians which breaches both international obligations and every principle of democracy;
  • To launch investigations into all bank accounts and assets held in Europe by members of the Government, their families and their financial backers;
  • To organise, through the OSCE and Council of Europe, a commission to investigate the human rights situation in Ukraine, with the objective of prosecuting all those found to be complicit in breaches of international laws.

Without clear and decisive action, western governments risk losing not only the confidence of the Ukrainian people but also any prospect of influencing Ukraine’s path towards European values and a European future. That would be a tragedy for Ukraine and for Europe.

AUGB General Council

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Ukrayinska Dumka


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