United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday reiterated the urgency of ending the political crisis in Ukraine through dialogue and the need to prevent further violence, as he met with the country's President ahead of the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Victor Yanukovych briefed the Secretary-General at length on the genesis of the crisis and recent developments, according to a read-out of the meeting issued by Ban's spokesperson.
The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, has been witnessing mass protests since late November, following a Government decision not to sign an agreement on broader integration with the European Union.
The demonstrations flared up again a couple of weeks ago in the wake of new legislation that restricted the exercise of fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression, and the operation of non-governmental organizations, as well as imposed penalties, including prison sentences, for breaches.
Ban thanked the President for receiving his Special Envoy, Robert Serry, whom he dispatched to Kiev from 28 to 30 January to convey his interest and concern in developments and to express the UN's solidarity with Ukrainians.
He added that the UN stood ready to provide technical assistance if requested by both sides.