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PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 113th CONGRESS, 2nd SESSION

Vol. 159 Washington, Monday, February 3, 2014 No. 3

House of Representatives


SUPPORTING THE DEMOCRATIC ASPIRATIONS OF THE PEOPLE OF UKRAINE



HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

OF NEW JERSEY

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, the people of Kyiv and so many
cities and towns throughout Ukraine are right now struggling, praying,
and risking--some of them really risking their lives on the Maidan for
justice and human dignity.

The government's violent crackdown has led to the deaths of at least
four protestors, and countless beatings, arrests, detentions,
kidnappings or harassment of activists, journalists, medics and
lawyers.

I want to join many of my colleagues in calling on the Ukrainian
government to stop, now, these attacks on human life and the basic
human rights of free expression, assembly and association--and
immediately to release those detained for peaceful actions and account
for missing persons.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we should urge Ukrainians to find a
peaceful, political settlement of the crisis through meaningful
negotiations between the government and the opposition in order to get
Ukraine back on the road to democracy. As to association with Europe,
it is not our government's place to say what the Ukrainian government
or people should do either way on this point, above all since we don't
know what arrangements are on offer. But we do stand up for the right
of the Ukrainian people to determine this according to their own
constitution and laws, free from coercive pressures by any foreign
government.

While the current Ukrainian government has committed grave injustices
in the course of this crisis, I am encouraged by signs that it is
taking steps to resolve the crisis, including the revocation of the
onerous January 16 anti-protest laws and the resignation of the
government.

The people of Ukraine have endured tremendous suffering over the
course of the last century including two world wars and 70 years of
Soviet brutality, most starkly illustrated by Stalin's genocidal famine
which resulted in the deaths of millions. With independence came new-
found freedoms, but these have been challenged by corruption of
grotesque proportions. The long-suffering Ukrainian people deserve
better--they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Given the heroic strength and character and democratic maturity the
Ukrainian people are showing in this crisis, I am confident that they
will not be denied a more democratic future.





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Sen. Cardin (left) with Rep. Alcee L. Hastings at the Helsinki Commission Mediterranean Seminar in July 2009