The decision in parliament, taken suddenly by a show of hands which caught the opposition off-guard, followed a court ban on protests in Kiev, boosting opposition fears of an imminent police crackdown.
\”What happened today in parliament is a violation of laws,\” said boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, an opposition leader who is regarded as a strong challenger to Yanukovich for the presidency. \”They do not have any legal basis,\” he said.
And far-right nationalist Oleh Tyahnibok, another opposition leader, said the vote was \”simply a usurping of power\”.
The law would make it an offence punishable by up to 15 days detention to wear a mask or face-covering like that adopted by many of the protesters, particularly those from the nationalist parties.
Dissemination of extremist information and slander was also banned and seemed to be aimed at forcing the removal of political graffiti on walls and bill-boards, pillorying Yanukovich and his government.