Germany urges Ukraine to protect peaceful protesters
Germany's foreign minister called on Ukraine Sunday to protect peaceful demonstrators and ensure the people's right to assembly, as pro-EU Ukrainians vowed to defy a protest ban.
"I vigorously call on the Ukrainian government to ensure freedom of assembly and to protect the peaceful demonstrators from any kind of intimidation and violence," Guido Westerwelle said in a statement.
Truncheon-wielding police early Saturday dispersed protesters in Kiev calling for President Viktor Yanukovych to resign after he walked away from a key political and free trade deal with the European Union that had been years in the making.
The opposition has said it will defy a sudden ban on protests in central Kiev and rally Sunday in support of early elections.
Westerwelle said people in Kiev and other towns had taken to the streets "for a European Ukraine", as was their right. "We share their wish to quickly bring Ukraine closer to the European Union," he said.
"Our offer for that stands."
He added that Ukraine's current presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe where it hosts a foreign ministers' meeting on December 5 and 6 should be "a particular incentive for the government in Kiev to respect our common European values".
Yanukovych has condemned the use of force against the opposition protesters in which several dozen were wounded.
© 2013 AFP