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EU threatens action against Ukraine over handling of protests

Source: Reuters - Wed, 22 Jan 2014 13:22 GMT
Author: Reuters
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BRUSSELS, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The European Union threatened on Wednesday to take action against Ukraine over its handling of anti-government protests after three people died during violent clashes in Kiev.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU was shocked by the deaths, deplored the use of force and called on all sides to immediately halt violence.

"If there is a systematic violation of human rights, including shooting at peaceful demonstrators or serious attacks to the basic freedoms ... then we have to rethink our relationship with Ukraine and possibly (there will be) some consequences," he told reporters, adding that it was too soon to say what the consequences might be.

During overnight violence in Kiev, two people died from gunshot wounds while a third was said to have fallen from atop the Dynamo soccer stadium, the general prosecutor's office said.

The anti-government protests erupted last November after President Viktor Yanukovich shunned a trade pact with the EU at the last moment and instead turned to Russia for financial aid to prop up the ailing economy of his former Soviet republic.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and his Lithuanian counterpart Linas Linkevicius said on Monday that further violence could lead to EU sanctions against Ukraine, although no official discussions have been held so far.

The U.S. embassy in Kiev said on Wednesday it had revoked the visas of several unidentified Ukrainians in response to action taken against protesters in November and December and said further measures could be taken. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Robin Emmott and Gareth Jones)

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