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Lithuania offers medical aid to Ukrainian protesters

25 January 2014, 15:52

Vilnius - Lithuania said on Friday it will provide free medical assistance to Ukrainians injured in violent protests in Kiev in a show of support for the pro-EU opposition.

The first group will include around 10 wounded protesters and will arrive in the Baltic state on Monday for treatment and physiotherapy, Lithuanian presidential advisor Jovita Neliupsiene told AFP.

She said the offer of treatment was Lithuania's way of showing "support for Ukrainian democratic and European aspirations".

Officials in the EU member have not yet decided whether they will fly in the injured or use ground transportation, nor whether they will widen their assistance to more protesters, Lithuanian foreign ministry spokesperson Rasa Jakilaitiene told AFP.

At least two people have died and hundreds have been injured in several days of clashes between protesters and Ukrainian security forces of the Russia-backed government.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite summoned the Ukrainian ambassador on Friday and "strongly condemned the violence against protesters".

The violence has horrified Ukrainians, who have never witnessed such scenes at home - including during the 2004 Orange Revolution, which was almost entirely peaceful.

During its stint as EU president last year, Lithuania played a key role in efforts to seal an EU association pact with Ukraine.

But under pressure from Russia, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement at a November summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, triggering the start of protests against him by pro-EU demonstrators.

Both ex-Soviet republics, Lithuania and Ukraine took different paths following their independence from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1990-1.

Tiny Lithuania sought to secure its independence by joining the EU and Nato in 2004, sparking ire in Moscow, while much larger Ukraine fostered ties with both Russia and the EU.



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