16:45 06.12.2013

Ban on Kyiv demos means Ukraine departing from OSCE vows - official

A November 30 court ban on demonstrations in central Kyiv means a departure by Ukraine from its commitments as a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), according to a top OSCE human rights officer.

Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Janez Lenarcic told a briefing in Kyiv on Friday that he had no official confirmation of the ban.

However, he said, if reports about it are true, it is an unqualified ban on demonstrations, in other words on peaceful assemblies, which is disproportionate and in contradiction to Ukraine's OSCE commitments.

Late on November 30, the Kyiv District Administrative Court, in satisfying a suit from the city administration, banned demonstrations on Independence Square, European Square, and Bankova, Hrushevskoho and Bohomoltsia Streets with effect from December 1 to January 7.

Lenarcic also expressed hope that those guilty of violence during demonstrations in Kyiv last weekend would be brought to justice. He hailed a promise by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara that the violence would be investigated carefully.

Lenarcic said basic freedoms are impossible to maintain if those guilty of violating them evade accountability.

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