KIEV, January 20 (RAPSI) - Ukrainian Parliamentary Human Rights Ombudsman Valeriya Lutkovskaya is looking into allegations of illegal detention in connection with the ongoing riots in central Kiev, according to the statement published on the ombudsman’s official website.
More than 20 people have been detained amid clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry reported earlier.
According to the statement, representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s office: “are visiting Internal Affairs Ministry units to verify the information on illegal arrests.”
Mass riots have been ongoing in Kiev since January 19. About 100 law enforcement officers were injured, with 61 police officers having been taken to hospitals, according to the Interior Ministry.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that it all began with a peaceful protest on Sunday that was attended by approximately 10,000 opposition supporters from the western regions of the Ukraine.Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported that the rally attracted upwards of 100,000 participants.
According to Lutkovskaya, a series of laws adopted by Parliament on January 16 gave rise to the protests in the Ukrainian capital. Those drafts concerned toughening responsibility for legal violations occurring within the context of protests. According to Lutkovskaya, such legislative activity must be a matter of the extensive public discussion.
Lutkovskaya said that the acts of violence in Kiev were unacceptable. She urged an immediate end to all actions resulting in violence.
Criminal proceedings have been initiated under Article 294 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, pertaining to “Mass Riots,” which stipulates imprisonment for up to 15 years.
Meanwhile, the escalation in tensions has provoked reactions from the international community.
Commenting on the escalating violence in Ukraine, Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin told reporters Monday that he is in contact with his Ukrainian parliamentary counterpart Vladimir Rybak. He said: "All I want to say is that laws should be followed always by everyone, including in Ukraine."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed concern via social media Sunday, when he tweeted: “Following with concern reports of violent clashes in #Ukraine. Violence is not the answer.”
The US White House released a statement Sunday calling for an end to the violence in Kiev. National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden urged: “We are deeply concerned by the violence taking place today on the streets of Kyiv and urge all sides to immediately de-escalate the situation.” Hayden further warned that the US would consider additional steps, “including sanctions,” in response to continuing violence.