US Vice President Joe Biden [official profile] on Thursday threatened targeted sanctions [press release] against the Ukrainian officials responsible for violence against civilian protesters. Biden urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich [official website; JURIST news archive] to remove security forces from Kiev and to take "immediate and tangible steps" toward ending the violence and addressing the concerns of the Ukrainian people. At least 25 individuals have been reported dead and more than 240 injured in protests that escalated when individuals began a march on Parliament to oppose Yanukovich. The protests began peacefully in November, but became violent after the now-repealed protest laws increased police power by cracking down on demonstrators. On Saturday, the Ukrainian parliament [official website] voted to remove [JURIST report] President Viktor Yanukovich. The vote followed Yanukovich's statement that he would not be resigning despite current escalating violence.
Ongoing protests in Kiev have continued for more than two months, prompting reactions from all sides of the conflict. This week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called [JURIST report] for a peaceful resolution. Earlier in February leaders of Ukraine's anti-government protests pressed [JURIST report] Yanukovich for further concessions, including a return to the earlier constitution that would limit presidential powers, and a revival of the EU free trade agreement (FTA). In January the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called for an investigation [JURIST report] into torture allegations against Ukraine following widespread arrests of protesters. The statement came the day after Yanukovich offered amnesty to protesters [JURIST report] who were arrested and agree to meet certain conditions.