Harper calls police action in Ukraine 'undemocratic and excessive'
Published Wednesday, December 11, 2013 8:29AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 11, 2013 8:52AM EST
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has condemned the use of riot police against peaceful protests in the Ukrainian capital, calling the action "undemocratic and excessive."
Harper said in a statement Wednesday that the action against demonstrators occupying Kyiv's main square is “particularly troubling,” as it follows police violence against protesters, mainly students, earlier this week.
“Canada and the international community expect Ukrainian authorities to respect and protect the rights of its citizens, including the right to express their opinions freely," Harper said.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada is committed to "long-term" democratic development in the country.
Canada has promised to send two dozen election monitors for the country's byelections scheduled next month. This follows last year's contribution of a 500-member observer force.
Hundreds of thousands of residents have taken to the streets in the country's capital since President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a major political and economic agreement with the EU to focus on Russia.
Protesters have been gathering around the clock, demanding Yanukovych resign.
Harper said the Canadian government stands with the Ukrainian people and will continue to oppose any efforts by the government to "repress their rights and freedoms."