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MOSCOW — George Clooney has released a video address in support of the Ukrainian protesters who have been out on the streets of Kiev for over two weeks, protesting their government’s decision not to sign an agreement for closer ties with the European Union.
Observers had viewed the deal as a step toward the West and away from Russian influence. Russia had threatened to impose hard-hitting sanctions on the Ukrainian government if the agreement went forward.
“We here in the United States have great affinity for those seeking democracy,” Clooney says in the video, first released by Vitali Klitschko, leader of the opposition party UDAR, on his official Twitter account, @Klitschko.
“We have learned through trial and error that a true democracy cannot exist without a free and fair and honest election,” the actor goes on to say. “You cannot have a true democracy if you arrest and harm its peaceful protesters.”
Without mentioning Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovich, Clooney denounced the fact that former prime minister Yulia Timoshenko was made a “political prisoner” because of a disagreement over “the way they want to govern.” Timoshenko is widely believed to be imprisoned as a result of a personal feud with Yanukovich.
“Let me say this to all of you in the square in Kiev and all around Ukraine,” Clooney concluded. “When you look to the West, know that we’re looking back with great admiration. We wish you a peaceful and safe mission. We wish you the government that you want. And we wish you the strength to carry on.”
“Thank you George — you are a true champ!” Klitschko wrote in a comment.
Meanwhile, in the early hours of Tuesday, police in Kiev destroyed barricades on several central streets, dispersing the protesters. Some protesters and policemen were reportedly injured in the clashes. But protesters remain in the city’s main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
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