Biden voices concern on Ukraine unrest

In a phone call with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Monday, Vice President Biden expressed “deep concern” over a growing potential for violence, according to a statement from the White House.

Demonstrators angered by Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a trade deal with the European Union have flooded the streets of Kiev over the past week, incensed by his decision instead to join a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. They have also accused the government of cronyism and corruption.

On Sunday, protestors toppled a statue of Vladimir Lenin and called for Yanukovych’s resignation.

The New York Times reported Monday that government security forces in turn raided the opposition party’s headquarters and began an effort to push protesters off main streets near government buildings. The nation’s security services also announced they had opened a treason investigation into unspecified politicians.

According to the White House, Biden “underscored the need to immediately de-escalate the situation and begin a dialogue with opposition leaders on developing a consensus way forward for Ukraine.”

“He noted that violence has no place in a democratic society and is incompatible with our strategic relationship,” the White House said.