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Activist Pavlo Khazan, of Friends of the Earth Ukraine, denounced on Wednesday the cooperation between the Police and thugs against the demonstrations that are taking place in the city of Dnipropetrovsk. He also made reference to torture in prisons and that the organization has no information about their colleague Vadim Shebanov, arrested on Sunday, during a peaceful protest. Not even Shebanov´s lawyers are allowed to go to the prison to find out about Shebanov, said Khazan.
On Monday, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) demanded the urgent release of Shebanov, who was arrested while participating in a massive demonstration headed to the Regional Administration of Dnipropetrovsk. FoEI also demanded an investigation into the accusations of police abuse at social protests and the repeal of an antidemocratic package of laws imposed by the government on January 16, which fueled the demonstrations.
Mykola Azarov, Ukrainian Prime Minister, resigned on Tuesday in an attempt to reach peace in the country; a country that has been hit by protests since November, 2013, after the government opted not to sign an association agreement with the European Union (EU), in order to strengthen its ties with Russia. Mobilizations are stronger in Kiev, Ukraine´s capital city, but they are taking place in several cities, especially to the West of the country, which has a more European inclination than the East, which is more pro-Russia. According to the opposition, six demonstrators have been killed.
Ukranian President, Víktor Yanúkovich, accepted Azarov´s resignation and yesterday, the parliament repealed the antidemocratic laws.
In interview with Real World Radio, Khazan said that this repeal was an important step, but he expressed his concern over the situation of political prisoners, especially Shebanov, and warned about torture in prisons and the joint action of the police with criminals against the protests. The demonstrators demand the release of people who they consider “political prisoners”.
The repealed laws established stricter sentences for unauthorized demonstrations or the blocking of administrative buildings, they banned setting up tents in the city, punished the circulation of convoys with more than five vehicles and allowed for trials to take place without the presence of the people accused. The laws also banned public assemblies, criminalized international cooperation, deemed NGOs as “foreign agents”, restricted distribution of information and established repressive regulations on the activities of NGOs in general.
Nevertheless, yesterday, Parliament passed another package of four laws replacing the ones repealed. The new legislation includes amendments to the Criminal Code that introduce the charge of liability for denying or justifying crimes committed by fascists and of vandalism against monuments that honor soldiers and civilians who fought against Nazi invaders during World War II.
At the end of the interview with Real World Radio, Khazan gave thanks for the international solidarity expressed and called on everyone to be alert so that human, civil and political rights are respected in the country.
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