Klitschko urges Western sanctions on Ukraine officials

Vitaly Klitschko, Ukraine's world boxing champion turned opposition leader, has met top US and EU diplomats to call on the West to introduce sanctions against Ukrainian officials, his party said on Friday.

Klitschko, whose party UDAR (Punch) finished fourth in parliamentary elections last October, earlier this week met with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, complaining that the policies of President Viktor Yanukovych have led to the country's isolation.

"The time has come for Yanukovych and his team to bear responsibility for the consequences of such actions," Klitschko was quoted as saying.

He called on the United States to introduce sanctions against Ukrainian officials, prosecutors and judges implicated in human rights violations and implementing what he called selective justice.

Ukraine had sought closer Western ties and EU integration until its relations with Washington and Brussels stalled over Yanukovych's refusal to release his jailed political foe, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The EU has made the release of Tymoshenko and her jailed allies a condition for Ukraine to receive preliminary backing for its eventual membership in the 27-nation European Union.

But Klitschko said ordinary Ukrainians should not be punished for the policies of the Ukrainian authorities.

"It is them and not the entire Ukraine and its people who should become the object of sanctions."

Klitschko delivered the same message in Brussels, where he met with senior EU officials including Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs.

"UDAR proposes investigating accounts of Ukrainian officials, prosecutors and judges, (their) business operations and their property abroad," he said.

Renat Kuzmin, Ukraine's deputy prosecutor general and a key figure in the legal campaign against Tymoshenko, saw his five-year US visa cancelled last year.