KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian leaders are under fire from the West for passing sweeping anti-protest laws amid anti-government demonstrations that have rocked Kiev for nearly two months.
Despite noisy protests from the opposition, the Ukrainian parliament, dominated by President Viktor Yanukovych's loyalists, passed a flurry of legislation Thursday that significantly curbs the rights to protest, free speech and the activity of non-governmental organizations.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Friday she is "deeply concerned" by the new laws and called on Yanukovych to revise them. The bills have yet to be signed by the president. The U.S. State Department called the laws "undemocratic" and said they contradict Ukraine's aspiration to a European future.
The demonstrations were sparked by Yanukovych's decision to freeze ties with the EU and tilt toward Russia instead.