Violence as Ukraine Anti-Protest Law Enacted
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A controversial anti-protest law came into effect in Ukraine, despite violent rallies against the legislation that have taken place for the past two days, ignoring an appeal for calm by President Viktor Yanukovych.
The new law, which bans all forms of protests, was published in the official Golos Ukrainy, or Voice of Ukraine, newspaper, raising fears that the government would use excessive force to quell dissent.
Opposition and and the West have condemned the bill, demanding that it be reversed.
Yanukovych made a call for calm on Monday, when demonstrators braved sub-zero temperatures and clashed with police over new anti-protest laws.
A statement issued on the presidential website said: "When peaceful actions have escalated into mass riots accompanied by demolition, arson and violence, I am confident that such phenomena threaten not only Kiev but the whole of the Ukraine. I call for dialogue, compromise and peace in our native land."
The situation was tense in Kiev, with protesters occasionally charging against police lines guarding the passage to government buildings, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
The violence, which began on Sunday, came after Yanukovych pushed through an anti-protest law that significantly increased fines and imposed jail terms for unauthorised street protests.
The new law also prohibits activists from wearing helmets or masks to demonstrations, curbs free speech and limits the ability to investigate or monitor the activity of officials, including judges.
Sunday's fighting left about 200 people wounded, Al Jazeera reported.
In an attempt to find a compromise, opposition leader and former boxer Vitali Klitschko travelled to Yanukovych's home outside Kiev to meet him.
The president received Klitschko and promised on Monday to create a special commission of officials set up by national security council secretary Andriy Klyuyev to solve the crisis. The move was announced by Klitscko's party, the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, and the presidency.