09:18 17.01.2014

U.S. concerned about adoption of laws restricting right to peaceful protest, freedom of speech in Ukraine

The United States has expressed its deep concern about the adoption of legislative amendments that restrict the right to peaceful protest and the freedom of speech by the Ukrainian parliament on January 16, as well as the way in which they were passed.

The U.S. State Department's spokesperson Jen Psaki said this in a statement, which was posted on their Web site on Thursday.

"The United States expresses its deep concern that the Ukrainian Rada pushed through several controversial measures today without adhering to proper procedures. Some of these measures will restrict the right to peacefully protest and exercise the freedom of speech, constrain independent media, and inhibit the operation of NGOs. If Ukraine truly aspires to a European future, it must defend and advance universal democratic principles and values that underpin a Europe whole, free, and at peace, and not allow them to be systematically dismantled," Psaki said in a statement.

The US called on the government of Ukraine to ensure its legislation reflects Ukraine’s democratic commitments to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the wishes of its people to exercise their fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly, and association.

"Both the process and the substance of the Rada’s actions today cast serious doubt on Ukraine’s commitment to democratic norms. A true democracy cannot function without dialogue, compromise, the right to peaceful dissent, and a legislature that enjoys the people’s trust," the statement reads

The Verkhovna Rada on January 16 adopted the state budget for 2014 without a debate. In addition, the MPs passed other important laws. They were voted upon without any discussion, by show of hands, and the opportunity to read the documents only arose after these were passed by parliament. The parliamentary opposition said that the laws were passed with the violation of the Verkhovna Rada's rules and procedures and called these actions by the majority a coup.

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