The European Union (EU) [official website] on Monday urged [statement, PDF] Ukraine's government to repeal a series of laws [materials] that limit the right to protest government actions. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich [official website, news archive] signed an anti-protest bill into law [JURIST report] last week amid widespread protests. In its statement, the EU expressed concern that the anti-protest legislation violates essential freedom of expression rights:
These legislative acts would significantly restrict the Ukrainian citizens' fundamental rights of association, media and the press, and seriously curtail the activities of civil society organisations. The EU calls on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that these developments are reversed and that its legislation is brought in line with Ukraine's European and international commitments.The EU also called for an investigation into acts of violence that have erupted in recent days [AP report].
Protests began [JURIST report] in late November after Yanukovich's decision to abandon a proposed trade pact with the EU. Later that month, Yanukovich offered amnesty [JURIST report] to those detained while participating in the country's recent anti-government protests. The proposal was made during a roundtable discussion with opposition leaders. In November Ukraine's imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] announced [JURIST report] that she would go on a hunger strike to show her support for the demonstrators who have been protesting the decision to abandon the EU trade pact. The pact, signed into law [JURIST report] in September, would have improved prison conditions and taken one step closer to integration with the EU by allowing the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, a step by the Ukrainian government toward economic and political integration with the EU.