16:41 17.01.2014

Limitation of civil rights to distance Ukraine from Europe - German foreign minister

The laws adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on January 16 restrict civil rights and lead Ukraine further away from Europe, German Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said.

"The path chosen yesterday by President [Viktor] Yanukovych leads to a dead end. The limitation of civil rights will lead Ukraine only further away from Europe. I am sure that most people in Ukraine want an open future for their country, which will make possible a choice in the direction of Europe," he said in a statement on the package of adopted laws, which was released by the German Embassy in Ukraine on Friday.

He said that Germany expects from the political leadership in Kyiv that "there will be no administrative obstacles and prosecutions for a political debate after the adopted decisions against rapprochement with the EU."

"Repression cannot be a response to a politically controversial debate," Steinmeier said.

On January 16, the Verkhovna Rada adopted Ukraine's state budget for 2014 and a number of laws without discussion. Most of the documents were passed without discussion, by a show of hands. The texts of certain laws became available only after MPs voted for them.

The Party of Regions faction noted that the opposition prevented normal voting, in particular, members of opposition factions took away voting cards from their colleagues in parliament. The opposition said that the laws had been adopted in violation of the parliament's rules of procedure and described their essence as "a coup."

The laws passed by parliament include the so-called Oliynyk-Kolesnichenko law, which, in particular, determines the procedure for the registration and functioning of NGOs - "foreign agents," the law criminalizing libel and extremist activities, as well as intervention in the information resources of the authorities, the law tightening criminal responsibility for riots, the blocking and seizure of buildings, etc.

The adoption of these laws caused a negative reaction from Western politicians and officials, as well as international human rights organizations.

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