Due to the growing protests in Kiev, Ukraine, the United States placed visa bans on 20 Ukrainian officials.
The State Department declined to say which officials were on the blacklist, which prevents them from traveling to the United States, but a senior State Department official said, “the list today includes the full chain of command responsible for ordering the violence last night.”
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that if the violence continued, the United States, working with the European Union, would impose sanctions against Ukrainian officials “in a much broader and deeper way.”
Protests started in late November after President Viktor Yanukovich turned down a trade deal with the European Union (EU) in favor of a $15 billion bailout with Russia. They became more violent in January after Parliament pushed through strict anti-demonstration laws. Members of the opposition want Yanukovich to resign and for the country to hold early elections.
In late January, Yanukovich’s prime minister and other officials resigned. He offered the post to opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and deputy prime minister to Viktor Klitschko, two prominent opposition leaders. Both turned him down.
Violence and protests escalated this week, and by the end of Tuesday, 18 people were killed: eleven protesters, seven policemen.
Yanukovich met with opposition leaders Wednesday and announced a truce between them. No details emerged of the truce, but his website said the two sides came to an agreement to stop the violence in the streets.