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Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

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Congressional rept.

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Many observers have expressed concern about Ukraine s democratic development, including the government s use of the courts to neutralize opposition leaders, most notably former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to a seven-year prison term in 2011. The government s effort in November 2013 to violently disperse pro-European Union protests backfired, resulting in mass demonstrations in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine. For over two months, the government alternated between attempted crackdowns against the protestors and conciliatory gestures. The most serious violence has occurred during and after a massive government crackdown on February 18-20, resulting in at least 88 deaths, mainly among protestors but also including some police officers. The violence led to a collapse in support for the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled from Kyiv, as did many of his supporters, and the seizure of power by opposition parties, with the support of the protestors. The parliament is expected to approve a new, pro-reform, pro-Western government by early March. The parliament has scheduled new presidential elections for May 25, 2014. Ukraine s new government will face serious economic problems. Ukraine has long-standing problems in attracting foreign investment, in part due to rampant corruption and other shortcomings in the rule of law. Living standards for many Ukrainians remain low. In the near term, the government s dwindling foreign exchange reserves have raised the prospect of a default on sovereign debt later this year, unless the government can secure new loans quickly. The Obama Administration reacted positively, but cautiously, to the revolution in Kyiv, saying it could be a step forward to the U.S. goal of a strong, prosperous, unified, and democratic Ukraine. The Administration is working with the EU, the IMF, and other international financial organizations to support a new Ukrainian government committed to reforms.

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  • Government and Political Science

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