(QHA) -

Ukraine's parliament has passed a sweeping antiprotest law that cracks down on street protesters. The initiatives on January 16 immediately drew criticism from EU and European officials who said the moves endangered democracy, RFE/RL reports.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called on Ukrainian authorities "to stop attempts to restrict free expression and free media.”

In Washington, the U.S. State Department expressed "deep concern" over the measures, saying they "cast serious doubt on Ukraine's commitment to democratic norms."

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "Some of these measures will restrict the right to peacefully protest and exercise the freedom of speech, constrain independent media, and inhibit the operation of NGOs."

The measures come as the government seeks to end the protests that have racked Ukraine since Yanukovych declined in November to sign an expected free-trade deal with the European Union and instead boosted ties with Moscow.

The "Euromaidan" protests, which at their peak brought hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians onto the streets, have since diminished. But several hundred people remain camped out on the central square of Kyiv or in public buildings in adjoining streets.

QHA