Anti-government demonstrators in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv have been protesting against laws passed by parliament on January 16, which virtually ban all forms of peaceful protest.
Many protesters carried banners and wore plasters across their mouths emblazoned with the word “dictatorship”.
The anti-protest legislation has led to accusations that President Viktor Yanukovych is turning Ukraine into a police state.
One protester told euronews: “We are not allowed to express our opinions. They forbade extremist expressions, forbade the wearing of helmets!”
“I can’t even comment on the procedure of yesterday’s parliamentary voting,” another demonstrator said. “Everything is illegal, everything is against the people!”
The new laws have been strongly condemned by the European Union and the United States.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “The steps that were taken yesterday are anti-democratic, they’re wrong, they are taking from the people of Ukraine their choice and their opportunity for the future.”
Protests have gripped Kyiv since Yanukovych’s government suspended talks on a long-planned free trade deal with the EU in November.
Some political analysts have warned that the legislation, introduced in an attempt to quash the demonstrations, might have the opposite effect – giving the opposition movement more momentum.