Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith has called on the European Commission to immediately begin the process of imposing targeted sanctions on the Ukraine as the country faces the prospect of a civil war.

Deputy Smith raised the matter during a Topical Issues Debate in the Dáil this evening, where he urged the Government to lend its voice to those who are standing up for democracy in Kiev.

Deputy Smith said, “The increasingly authoritarian style of the Ukrainian government should be of great concern to all democrats who support the concept of basic human rights.

“The European Union has a responsibility to bring about pressure on President Yanukovyck to stop the implementation of dramatic new laws banning almost all forms of protest activity. The violent suppression of the opposition to these laws is not acceptable. Sanctions must now be imposed on the Ukraine to show that the EU will not tolerate the abuse of power which it is currently witnessing on its doorstep.

“The fatalities yesterday in Kiev shocked the whole European Union. The reports this week that the body of opposition activist Yuri Verbitsky was found in woods outside Kiev and had signs of torture is deeply troubling. It is a wakeup call for all of us in the European Union. Action must be taken.”

Deputy Smith went on to say that it was time for the EU to reaffirm its commitment to human rights and re-state its call for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian Prime Minister. The EU has described her imprisonment as “justice being applied selectively under political motivation.”