NEW YORK, Jan. 22 - Ukrainians living in New York on Wednesday called for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council amid escalating violence in Ukraine as the government had used deadly force against protesters.
Four protesters died in early hours of Wednesday in downtown Kiev from gunshot wounds in clashes with riot police during anti-government protests.
Another person died after falling from atop of a nearby building during the confrontation.
“The situation in Ukraine is escalating: 5 people have been killed by police, and many more kidnapped, tortured and beaten,” Lyuba Shipovich, the organizer of the rally in New York, said. “Our demands: Security council meeting, stop terror and bring peace to Ukraine.”
The Ukrainians rallied in front of the UN headquarters in New York.
The developments underscore growing concerns among Ukrainian communities across the world over tensions in Ukraine as the government of President Viktor Yanukovych had been increasingly relying on force rather on talks with protest leaders.
The protests began on November 21, 2013 after the Ukrainian government had refused to sign political association and free trade agreement with the European Union.
Instead, Yanukovych negotiated a $15 billion bailout package with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on December 17 in exchange for closer integration between Ukraine and Russia.
A new round of escalation in Kiev was triggered by legislation approved by Yanukovych-led party in Parliament on January 16 that mimics totalitarian laws that have been approved in Russia in 2012 and 2013 aimed at ending street protests in Moscow.
The legislation imposes government control over the Internet and mobile phones, makes it easy for the government to shut down independent media and introduces draconian fines and prison terms – of up to 15 years - for taking part in anti-government rallies.
Any reporter accused by the authorities of “slander,” which now essentially amounts to any criticism of the government, faces a jail sentence of up to two years. (om/ez)