Fires in Kiev: Could Growing Death Toll Lead to EU Sanctions?
Protests in Kiev have continued, escalating with 18 deaths on Tuesday, seven of them policemen, and with the use of fire by protestors attempting to block off the advancements of law enforcement officials. According to BBC, at 6 p.m. GMT there was a police broadcast over loudspeakers that let protestors know that “an anti-terror operation” was about to begin. Armored vehicles soon followed, as did stun grenades and water cannons, while police attempted to take down protest barricades.
In response, protestors aimed fireworks and gas bombs, lighting fires in order to prevent police breaches. “The European Union will respond to the deterioration on the ground including via targeted measures,” said the statement made on behalf of the European Council by its president. “Our Ministers in the Foreign Affairs Council will at their meeting tomorrow examine targeted measures, such as financial sanctions and visa restrictions against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force.”
The European Commission’s president, Jose Manuel Barroso, echoed the threat of sanctions in his Wednesday condemnation of the violence. “It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine,” said Barroso.
“Power is gained not on the streets or squares, but at the polls. I have repeatedly told them — the elections will be soon,” said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in a press release, emphasizing that changes should “happen legally, under the Constitution of Ukraine.”