AJC: Ukraine Crackdown Seeks to Suffocate Pro-Europe Movement

NEW YORK, Feb. 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC applauds U.S. and EU support for Ukrainians protesting against their increasingly repressive government. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, addressing the Munich Security Conference, condemned the Ukrainian government crackdown on demonstrators gathered in central Kiev.

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The latest outrages involve the kidnapping and torture of leading Ukrainian human rights activists. Dmytro Bulatov, who had disappeared for several days, was found so severely mutilated that he is being transferred to Germany for medical treatment. Yuri Verbitsky was found dead with indications of torture. Igor Lutsenko, who also was kidnapped and beaten, survived, and like Bulatov has been able to retell his experience. Dozens more remain missing.

"The promise of Ukraine's return to democracy, after decades of stifling Soviet rule, is waning," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Tragically, the current Ukrainian government has revealed its true character by brutally cracking down on citizens who, braving frigid weather and brute force, are giving voice to their quest for the country's pro-Western orientation."

Mass protests began two months ago, after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly changed course and, at the last minute, refused to sign a long-anticipated agreement with the European Union.

"As we have said before, as long-time friends of Ukraine who advocated for Washington's recognition of Ukraine's return to independence in 1991, we believe that a closer association with the EU and its institutions is the likeliest path for it to ensure a bright, prosperous future, anchored in democratic values, the rule of law, a robust civil society, and government accountability," said Harris. "The current posture of the Ukrainian leadership, encouraged by Moscow, is suffocating the country's enormous potential and darkening its future prospects."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee



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