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Ukrainian Activists Want Sanctions Against Officials For Rights Violations

Yevhen Zakharov of the Ukrainian Human Rights Union
Yevhen Zakharov of the Ukrainian Human Rights Union
KYIV -- Ukrainian rights activists have called on "democratic countries" to introduce sanctions against Ukrainian officials that they claim are involved in human rights violations, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Yevhen Zakharov, a member of the Ukrainian Human Rights Union, told RFE/RL on June 10 that a refusal by "democratic countries" to issue visas to Ukrainian officials implicated in infringing human rights, as well as freezing their assets abroad, could help end what he called "human rights violations" and "political persecution" in Ukraine.

"One has to understand that in order to introduce such sanctions it is necessary to have clear evidence that political persecution took place," he said.

Meanwhile, opposition factions in the Ukrainian parliament are preparing their own appeal to Western countries regarding sanctions against government officials.

Taras Steskiv, a Ukrainian parliament deputy and member of the Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense faction, told RFE/RL on June 10 that the final decision on the appeal will be made this week.

According to "Ukrainska Pravda's" website, on the draft list of officials that the opposition wants to have sanctions brought against are the prosecutor-general, several of his subordinates, and a number of judges.

Hanna Herman, an adviser to President Viktor Yanukovych and head of the presidential administration's humanitarian department, compared the opposition initiative to tactics during "fascist times."

Writing in a blog titled "Segregation?" on June 10, Herman said the preparation of "blacklists" of officials who she said displease opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko reminds her of "fascist methods" of segregation for different ethnic groups such as Jews and Roma.

On June 9, the European Parliament issued a resolution that warned Ukraine to stop using criminal law as an instrument of pressure on the opposition.