Ukraine Enacts Anti-Protest Laws

Slandering government officials could lead to a year of 'corrective labor'

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Genya Savilov / AFP / Getty Images

Ukrainian pro-EU protesters keep warm around a bonfire in Independence Square in Kiev early on Jan. 17, 2014.

Ukrainian lawmakers hurriedly pushed through new measures aimed at curbing anti-government protests Thursday.

Parliamentarians from President Viktor Yanukovych’s ruling party joined forces with communist party members and independents to pass the bills by raising their hands, rather than by the usual process of electronic voting, BBC reports. The new measures ban unauthorized installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public spaces and mean that those slandering government officials could face a punishment of one year of corrective labor.

Three of the main opposition leaders said the new laws were “illegitimate,” warning that Ukraine could now face another “wave of protests.” The U.S. State Department on Thursday issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over the move and described the new laws as “undemocratic.”

Anti-government protests began in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, in November after Yanukovych rejected at the last minute a European Union partnership deal for fear of threatening his country’s ties with Russia.