Ukrainian Protesters Deserve to Be Heard | Freedom House

Ukrainian Protesters Deserve to Be Heard

Washington

Freedom House condemns the use of force by Ukrainian government forces over the weekend against journalists and protesters in Kyiv, in demonstrations that have been the largest the country has seen since the Orange Revolution in 2004. Freedom House calls on the government in particular as well as the opposition and civil society to avoid violence and the use of force.

The protests began last week following President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of closer economic and political integration with the European Union (EU) in favor instead of closer cooperation with Russia.

“On the ninth anniversary of the Orange Revolution, it is heartening to see the passion that so many Ukrainians have for a democratic future,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House.  “Since winning the election in 2010, Yanukovych unfortunately has placed protecting his own political interests above those of the country, and his spurning of the EU at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius was, for some, a step too far.”     

“This is a decisive moment in the history of Ukraine,” said Susan Corke, director of Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “It is an opportunity for the public to shape the economic and political future of the country, not just a government seen as increasingly corrupt and authoritarian.”

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Kyiv, taking control of Independence Square. On Dec. 1, special police units used tear gas and flash grenades when demonstrators approached the president's office. Police detained dozens of protesters; on Dec. 2, the courts released some of them.

“Ukraine’s government should respect the public’s determination to protect democracy and their desire to follow the path set by the European Union,” Corke said.

Ukraine is rated Partly Free in Freedom of the World 2013, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2013, and Free in Freedom on the Net 2013.

To learn more about Ukraine, visit:
Special Report: One Step Forward, One Step Back: An Assessment of Freedom of Expression in Ukraine during its OSCE Chairmanship
Video: David J. Kramer’s Address to Participants of the Eastern Partnership Conference
Press Release: Human Rights Must Guide Eastern Partnership Agenda 
Nations in Transit 2013: Ukraine 
Freedom in the World 2013: Ukraine
Freedom of the Press 2013: Ukraine
Freedom on the Net 2013: Ukraine
Sounding the Alarm Round 2: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine 
Blog: Freedom at Issue

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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