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Lavrov Chides Ukraine Opposition, Europe Over Protests

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (left) welcoming Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Kyiv for a meeting in 2010
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (left) welcoming Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Kyiv for a meeting in 2010
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has harshly criticized Ukraine's opposition and countries in Europe for social tensions in Ukraine.

Speaking at a news conference on January 21, Lavrov called the demonstrators who occupied the Kyiv mayor's building and a government building in the capital "militants" and added their behavior was beyond what would be considered acceptable in European countries.

"There are pogroms now, attacks against police, arsons, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices -- this is scary," Lavrov said. "This is a total violation of any European norms."

Lavrov also criticized European support for Ukraine's opposition, which has rallied around the catchphrase "EuroMaidan" to press for President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster and a return to the pro-EU path.

"We would prefer that some of our European colleagues refrained from acting unceremoniously over the Ukrainian crisis, when, without any kind of invitation, members of certain European governments rush to the Maidan, take part in antigovernment demonstrations in a country, with which they have diplomatic relations," Lavrov said. "It is just indecent."

The Russian foreign minister pointed to calls for calm from the opposition as a sign the situation in Ukraine is becoming critical.

"I personally believe that those appeals for calm coming now from opposition leaders, in particular from [Udar leader] Vitali Klitschko, show that the situation is spinning out of control," Lavrov said.

Lavrov called on all parties in Ukraine to engage in dialogue to resolve their differences among themselves, without meddling from outside the country.

"We are convinced that internal problems of any country, including Ukraine, should be resolved through dialogue, within the constitutional and legal framework, without any foreign interference," he said.

Lavrov also said Russia stood ready to help create a dialogue between the Ukrainian opposition and government.

Protests have been going on in Ukraine since late November after the government suspended talks on closer ties with the European Union. Kyiv has been the center of those protests, which in December drew hundreds of thousands of people.

There also have been violent clashes between protesters and police. The latest clashes were sparked by laws pushed through parliament last week that placed new restrictions on the ability of people to hold demonstrations.

Clashes between radical opposition supporters and riot police continued in Kyiv overnight on January 21. Opposition leader Klitschko warned protesters that the government was sending paid thugs to destabilize the situation.

Based on reporting by Reuters, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax

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