Ukraine officials send mass text warning protesters

KIEV, Ukraine - Officials in the Ukraine stepped up the crackdown on protesters by pinpointing cell phones and sending a mass text message to people near the fighting Tuesday.

People near the fighting between riot police and protesters received a text message shortly after midnight saying “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance,” the New York Times reported.

The European Union urged Ukraine to scrap new laws that are viewed as curtailing fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the holding of peaceful protests.

Ukraine has been shaken since November by massive public protests after Russia lured the country's leaders with financial incentives to ditch closer cooperation with the EU.

The laws are widely seen as an attempt to silence the protests -- but new rallies over the weekend drew tens of thousands of people and turned violent.

The EU statement calls on all parties to "exercise restraint," urging authorities "to fully respect and protect the peaceful demonstrators' right to assembly and speech."

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