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U.S. House Backs Ukraine's 'Democratic, European' Hopes

Ukrainians in the city of Lugansk demonstrate in January in support of the Euromaidan protests in the capital, Kyiv, and elsewhere.
Ukrainians in the city of Lugansk demonstrate in January in support of the Euromaidan protests in the capital, Kyiv, and elsewhere.
The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a resolution expressing support for "democratic and European aspirations" in Ukraine and calling on authorities there to respect democratic rights and free protest detainees.

House Resolution 447 also states support for "the people of Ukraine['s]...right to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear."

The resolution also calls on Ukrainian authorities to respect the rights of those Ukrainians protesting in Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine in support of a democratic future for their country.

Ukraine has been rocked by demonstrations since President Viktor Yanukovych balked at signing the association agreement in November.

The U.S. resolution also "calls on the Government of Ukraine to bring to justice those responsible for violence against peaceful protesters, and to release and drop criminal charges against those detained for exercising their democratic rights."

It says Washington should consider targeted sanctions against officials who either engage in or authorize violence against protesters.

The resolution was introduced by Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York. It passed on February 10 by a vote of 381-2.

Earlier in the day, EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels reiterated that the European Union remains committed to signing an association agreement with Ukraine.

But they said the agreement "does not constitute the final goal in EU-Ukraine relations."

Afterward, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton refused to say whether EU membership could be offered to Ukraine in the future.

“I think wherever people believe the future might be everyone recognized that there is to be done in the relationship with Ukraine, so the words mean what they say," Ashton said. "That is not the end, and there many things that could happen in the future.”

The EU foreign ministers also said the EU is ready to offer Ukraine financial aid if a new Ukrainian government pursues economic and political reforms.

Elsewhere, Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said those responsible for the use of excessive force against antigovernment protesters in Ukraine should be brought to justice.

Muiznieks visited Ukraine February 5-10, when his team interviewed dozens of people who were injured or detained during the protests and also met health professionals who had treated people for injuries.

In a statement on February 10, Muiznieks said: "It is not necessary to crack people's skulls and knock out several of their teeth in order to apprehend them. At the same time, it is not necessary to aim rubber bullets at persons' heads in order to bring a crowd under control or counter violence by protesters."

He also voiced concern over cases of abductions and the use of nonofficial individuals to police demonstrations.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL, Reuters, and AFP

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