EU imposes sanctions on Ukrainian officials

Bloc agrees to put travel ban and asset freeze on Ukrainian officials over violence in the streets of the capital Kiev.

The European Union has agreed to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on Ukrainian officials who are deemed responsible for the violence in the Eastern European country, according to EU foreign ministers and officials.

Thursday’s announcement came hours after at least 20 people were killed in the anti-government protests in Ukraine and a day after the United States imposed its own targeted sanctions on various Ukrainian officials.

The EU foreign ministers held an emergency meeting on Thursday in Brussels on the deadly violence going on in Ukraine.

“In light of the deteriorating situation, the EU has decided as a matter of urgency to introduce targeted sanctions including asset freeze and visa ban against those responsible for human rights violations, violence and use of excessive force. Member States agreed to suspend [Ukrainian] export licences on equipment which might be used for internal repression,” Catherine Ashton, EU foreign affairs and security policy chief, said in a press conference after the meeting, reading the EU statement.

Speaking as she left the gathering, Emma Bonino, the Italian foreign minister, said that the sanctions would be imposed very rapidly.

“The decision is to proceed very rapidly, in the next hours, to a visa ban and asset freeze on those who have committed the violence,” she told reporters.

She also said EU member states also agreed to offer medical assistance and visas to the injured and to dissidents.

Bonino said the position had been agreed with the French, German and Polish foreign ministers, who are currently in Kiev negotiating with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

The three foreign ministers, who met Yanukovych in Kiev on Thursday, have extended their stay until Friday. They were reporting back to the emergency ministerial EU meeting in Brussels.

An EU diplomat told Reuters news agency that the number of people on the list however “will depend on developments on the ground”.

US sanctions 20 officials

Washington said on Wednesday that it had imposed visa bans on 20 Ukrainian government officials it considered “responsible for ordering human rights abuses related to political oppression”.

At least 20 people were killed during street fighting between protesters and riot police in Kiev on Thirsday, while the country’s interior ministry announced that 67 police officers were seized by the protesters.

Ukraine is the object of a geopolitical tug-of-war between Moscow, which sees it as the historical cradle of Russian civilisation, and the West, which says Ukrainians should be free to choose economic rapprochement with the European Union. The protests by EU-supporters in the country have been going on since late November.

Russia, which has been holding back new loan instalment until it sees stability in Kiev, has various times condemned EU and US support of the opposition demands that Yanukovich, elected in 2010, should share power and hold new elections.




Source : Al jazeera

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