White House Wants Ukraine President Yanukovich to Pull Back Forces in Kiev

White House Wants Ukraine President Yanukovich to Pull Back Forces in Kiev

The White House told Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich to withdraw security in Kiev as protests worsen and the death toll rises.

“We are outraged by images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich should immediately withdraw his security forces from downtown Kiev an respect the right of peaceful protest, and “we urge protesters to express themselves peacefully,” said Carney.

The violence caused the US State Department to issue a travel alert to Ukraine and place visa bans on 20 Ukrainian officials.

Protesters have been in Independence Square since late November when Yanukovich turned down a European Union trade deal in favor of a $15 billion bailout from Russia. It escalated on Tuesday after 25 people were killed. The total death tolls between Tuesday and Thursday vary between outlets. Reuters says 50, but Thursday morning CNN reported more than 100 were killed.

Yanukovich announced a truce between him and opposition leaders Wednesday night, but it failed as protesters thought it was a stunt.

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