- Title: UKRAINE: Ukrainians react to new anti-protest laws
- Date: 17th January 2014
- Summary: VARIOUS OF UKRAINE'S PRESIDENT OFFICIAL WEBSITE WITH DECREE ON RESIGNATION OF VIKTOR YANUKOVICH'S CHIEF OF STAFF SERHIY LYOVOCHKIN
- Embargoed: 1st February 2014 12:00
- Location: Ukraine
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA58Q94MQRQ7VA7EDEQ46JU5R2
- Story Text: Ukrainians react to President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to sign into force set of tough new laws that would ban virtually all forms of anti-government protests.
Protesters gathered in central Kiev on Friday (January 17) to demonstrate against a set of tough new laws signed into force by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, which would ban virtually all forms of anti-government protests despite an outcry from Western governments which have criticised them as anti-democratic.
The presidential website listed the laws, which were rushed through parliament by Yanukovich's supporters on Thursday (January 16).
Yanukovich triggered major pro-Europe rallies in the former Soviet republic when he walked away from signing a landmark free trade deal with the European Union in late November in favour of closer economic ties with Russia, Ukraine's Soviet-era overlord.
These rallies rapidly spiralled into mass anti-government protests that brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets of the capital Kiev.
Several hundred protesters are still camped out in the main Independence Square and on the city's main thoroughfare. Several hundred others are camped out 300 metres away in City Hall.
Some protesters said the new laws were "criminal".
"Here is something really ungraspable going on in the country. It's not normal, it has nothing to do with the law making, it is criminal. In my opinion it is criminal. I'm standing here on the square to change it. People are fed up with this. And we are loosing patience. People are looking for changes, and changes will come," said Amet Idrisov, a pro-European protester.
Heavy-handed action by riot police to break up the protests in December failed and brought condemnation from the United States and Europe.
"Of course we hope there will be no blood. But it is hard to say now. Actually there is no single revolution without blood. So I think, there will be some blood," said Vasyl, a protester.
"We want changes for the better. We don't want to immigrate to other countries. We've been born here, our parents have been born here, grand and grand grand parents. They lived here. We have to be proud of them, and I think they would be proud of us as patriots of this land," said another protester, Mykhalo.
The new laws ban any unauthorised installation of tents, stages or amplifiers which have all been features of the protests that play out day and night on Kiev's Independence Square. People and organisations who provide facilities or equipment for such meetings will also be liable to a fine or detention.
"If it happens what we can expect now to happen, and we have (in a new law) several very dangerous articles, which you read and understand, that they can disperse maidan any time, and they can arrest property of any person at any time, and they can arrest any citizen any time, and it all makes you very sad. We have to be ready for this, but how?" asked Anna Morozova, an Automaidan activist.
The laws foresee prison terms of up to 15 years for "mass violation" of public order.
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