Norway condemns violence in Kiev

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Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende called for an end to the violence in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Wednesday, and urged President Viktor Janukovitsj to go to an election. The President had given his first public speech on Tuesday night since the conflict escalated, and put the blame squarely on the opposition parties.

The escalation of violence in the Ukrainian capital Kiev distracted Foreign Minister Børge Brende from official business in Colombia this week. On Wednesday morning he urged President to end attacks against protestors, hold further talks with opposition leaders, and to call an election. PHOTO: Kristin Enstad/Utenriksdepartement

The escalation of violence in the Ukrainian capital Kiev distracted Foreign Minister Børge Brende from official business in Colombia this week. On Wednesday morning he urged President Janukovitsj to end attacks against protestors, hold further talks with opposition leaders, and to call an election. PHOTO: Kristin Enstad/Utenriksdepartement

In the early hours of Wednesday morning police stormed the protesters’ camp, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). It was reported 25 people including a Ukrainian journalist have been killed since the fighting escalated, and about 240 people have been taken to hospital. Opposition leaders claimed the uprising was sparked when the President demanded all protestors leave Kiev’s Independence Square and sent in the police, and the demonstrators reacted with petrol bombs, stones and fireworks.

“This is a very serious development now in Kiev,” said Brende. “The storming of the Independence Square should not have happened. Now those who are responsible for this violence must be held accountable, and President Janukovitsj must really get this calmed down now so it doesn’t end in bloodshed in the coming weeks.”

Janukovitsj has held meetings with three opposition leaders without finding any solutions, reported NRK. Brende said the negotiations must continue, and the President must call an election. “Those who have been responsible for the violence and killing must be held responsible and be punished,” he said. “The Ukrainian people must also get their say on the future of the country and whether to make an association agreement with the European Union. It should be through a referendum.”

Brende said the Norwegian ambassador in Kiev spent all of Tuesday evening in meetings, and made it clear Norway condemned any violence and failure to hold the perpetrators responsible. He said Norway would take “necessary measures” alongside the EU if President Janukovitsj doesn’t calm the violence and halt attacks on protestors.

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate