Czech President May Cancel Yanukovych Visit Over ViolencePeter Laca
Czech President Milos Zeman will consider canceling an invitation for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to visit Prague if deadly violence in Kiev and other cities continues.
Clashes in Ukraine between police and anti-government activists have killed at least 25 people and left hundreds wounded in the bloodiest episode of the country’s three-month standoff. Nine security officers and a journalist were among those killed after security forces moved to clear out the main protest camp in Kiev yesterday. Zeman had invited Yanukovych to attend the Eastern Partnership meeting in Prague in May.
“If the violence continues, this matter will have to be reconsidered,” Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said by phone. “President Milos Zeman strictly condemns the violence in Ukraine. He considers early parliamentary and presidential elections to be the solution for the situation.”
Yanukovych, backed by Russia, is seeking to end the crisis that has destabilized the country of 45 million. The government yesterday banned protests and vowed to use “all means” necessary to restore order. U.S. and European leaders condemned the violence, and some diplomats have urged sanctions against the Black Sea state’s leaders.