MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) – Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Thursday called for the leaders of the United States and Russia to prevent further escalation of a dangerous standoff between demonstrators and police in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev.
“I ask you to find a way to take a resolute step in helping Ukraine return to a peaceful path of development,” Gorbachev said in the letter, addressed to Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin and posted on his website, Gorby.ru.
At least three demonstrators have died during rallies that began on Sunday in protest of hastily passed legislation curtailing the freedom of assembly in Ukraine.
Police have been accused of using excessive force, while rioters have been seen throwing flaming Molotov cocktails at police lines.
Gorbachev wrote that “now is not the time to investigate” the allegations of the factions because doing so would “only complicate the situation.”
He said the conflict in Ukraine is particularly hard on Russians, noting that many families have relatives from both countries. Both his late wife and mother were Ukrainian.
He told the presidents that “we must not allow Ukrainians to fight Ukrainians.”