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UN urges Ukraine to scrap curbs on freedom of speech, assembly

GENEVA, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The United Nations human rights office called on Ukrainian President Vikor Yanukovich on Friday to abolish curbs on freedom of speech and assembly and the operation of NGOs, which were passed into law on Jan 16.

"We are appalled by the deaths reported in recent days in Kiev, which should be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated. We are also calling for an investigation into reports of kidnappings and torture," Rupert Colville, spokesman for U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay, told a briefing in Geneva.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, writing by Tom Miles; Editing by John Stonestreet)