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Ukraine Opposition Leader Welcomes Obama Remark

  • RFE/RL

Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk (right) joins antigovernment protesters in the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem at the "Euromaidan" encampment on Independence Square in Kyiv in mid-December.

Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk (right) joins antigovernment protesters in the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem at the "Euromaidan" encampment on Independence Square in Kyiv in mid-December.

Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk has thanked U.S. President Barack Obama for remarks in the latter's annual State of the Union address to Congress, in which he backed free and peaceful freedom of expression.

They were the latest statement from the administration in Washington to emphasize the government in Kyiv's responsibility to "listen" to its citizens over the future course of the country.

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Yatsenyuk offered thanks to Obama via Twitter "for recognizing our struggle for #Democracy4Ukraine" and added, "We press on for a brighter future for Ukraine."

The Ukrainian parliament is meeting over possible amnesty for protesters, and senior European Union officials are in Kyiv to press for a resolution of the crisis, which is now in its third month.

The protests took a violent turn after antiprotest legislation was enacted that imposed harsh penalties against demonstrators as "extremists." That legislation was rescinded on January 28, under enormous domestic and international pressure.

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"In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country’s future," Obama told the U.S. Congress in his speech.

The White House also said that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in a telephone call with President Viktor Yanukovych, welcomed "progress" made on January 28 in Ukraine and "strongly encouraged" Yanukovych to continue to work with the opposition toward a peaceful solution.

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It was the second telephone conversation between Biden and Yanukovych in as many days.

With reporting by AP and AFP

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