France's Hollande condemns violence in Ukraine

by Reuters
Thursday, 23 January 2014 17:38 GMT

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PARIS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande condemned on Thursday violence against what he called "peaceful protesters" in Ukraine, urging authorities to find a compromise to end the crisis.

"I call on Ukrainian authorities to rapidly seek dialogue," Hollande's office said in a statement, adding that the European Union remained ready to work on an association agreement for closer ties with Ukraine.

Protests against the four-year rule of President Viktor Yanukovich took off in November after Ukraine dropped out of a free-trade deal with the European Union, agreeing on a $15- billion bailout from Russia.

The protests turned more violent on Sunday, as clashes between hard-core radicals and riot police killed three people on the side of the protesters and injured 150 policemen.

"A big country like Ukraine, which aspires to play a full role on the European and international scenes, should put an end to such actions," Hollande said in the statement, adding his voice to the alarm expressed by European authorities.

Yanukovich on Thursday called for an emergency session of parliament after the introduction of anti-protest legislation added to the street anger. (Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Mark John)

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