Ukraine: Archive 4

Last Updated September 18, 2016

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Kyiv Post

Armed men storm government buildings in Crimea; two dead, 30 injured during confrontations (UPDATE)

February 27, 2014

Ukraine’s Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov put police and security forces on alert after buildings of the Crimean parliament and administration were seized just before dawn on Feb. 27 by an unknown armed group. Two persons were killed and more than 30 people were injured in clashes on Feb. 26-27, according to officials. Thousands gathered in front of the parliament building with crowds split between those supporting the new government appointed by parliament in Kyiv and those calling for integration with Russia. The buildings of the Crimean Council of Ministers and the Crimean parliament were seized by an unknown group of 120 armed men at around 4 a.m., according to Crimea Prime Minister Anatoly Mogilyov, the nation’s former prime minister and a longtime loyalist of ousted President Viktor Yanukovch. Mogilyov and UDAR party lawmaker Serhiy Kunitsyn said the men were professionally trained individuals with automatic weapons. “More than 120 armed men entered the Crimean Supreme Council and the Crimean government. These professionally trained people are armed. They brought weapons – automatic weapons, grenade launchers, and machine guns,” Kunitsyn said, speaking from the parliament rostrum in Kyiv on Feb. 27.

“They have enough weapons to defend (the buildings) for a month,” he added.

Reuters news agency quoted an ethnic Russian on the scene as saying some of the armed men fired their weapons during seizure of the buildings. “We were building barricades in the night to protect parliament. Then this young Russian guy came up with a pistol … we all lay down, some more ran up, there was some shooting and around 50 went in through the window,” Leonid Khazanov told Reuters. “They’re still there … Then the police came, they seemed scared. I asked them (the armed men) what they wanted and they said ‘To make our own decisions, not to have Kyiv telling us what to do,'” Khazanov added. Mustafa Jemilov, former head of the Mejilis of the Crimean Tatar people, said in Ukraine’s parliament on Feb. 27 that the men occupying the crimean government buildings “came by buses from Sevastopol.” “There are reports of movement of armed vehicles from the Russian fleet in different directions,” he said. “We also got signals that in many hotels there are Russian soldiers in civilian clothes. This all is very alarming.”

He said that the Russian General Consul denied all involvement in the incident. “But they would hardly tell truth,” he added. Jemilov believes the group of armed men come from one of two camps: “either they are Russian soldiers, or former Berkut soldiers who with allegiances to Russia.” Crimea is the last bastion of opposition to the newly formed government in Kyiv after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22. Russia’s Black Sea fleet is stationed in the port of Sevastopol. Crimea is also home to more than a million ethnic Russians, as well as ethnic Urkainains and Tatars, a group victimized by Soviet ruler Josef Stalin during World War II, whose first language is Russian. Russia’s foreign ministry said through a statement that the Kremlin was prepared to defend the rights of its compatriots and would react appropriately to any violation of them. Russian President Vladimir Putin has thus far not responded to some calls by ethnic Russians in Crimea to reclaim the peninsula, which was turned over to Soviet Ukraine in 1954.

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Source = Kyiv Post

bbc

West warns Russia amid rising tensions in Crimea

February 27, 2014

Western nations have called on Russia to ease tensions in Ukraine’s Crimea region after armed men seized the local parliament and raised the Russian flag. Russia also scrambled fighter jets along its borders as part of military exercises it announced a day earlier. Moscow said it was willing to work with the West on averting a crisis, but warned foreign powers against taking decisions on behalf of Ukrainians. Meanwhile, the ousted Ukrainian president is reported to be in Russia. Viktor Yanukovych plans to hold a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Friday, Russia’s Ria news agency reports.

Earlier, in his first statement since being voted out of office by MPs last week, Mr Yanukovych said he had been “compelled to ask the Russian Federation to ensure my personal security from the actions of extremists” and that he still considered himself the legitimate president of Ukraine. Also on Thursday, Ukraine’s new interim government – including Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk – was approved by parliament. Unidentified armed men entered the Crimean parliament in the regional capital Simferopol by force on Thursday morning, and hoisted a Russian flag on the roof. They were cheered by a handful of pro-Russian demonstrators who gathered round the building, despite a police cordon.

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Source = BBC News

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Russia puts military on high alert as Crimea protests leave one man dead

February 27, 2014

The Kremlin ordered major military exercises on Wednesday as concerns about unrest in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula continued to grow and scuffles in the region left one person dead. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, ordered an urgent drill of his country’s armed forces in western Russia, in what appeared to be a display of sabre-rattling aimed at the new government in Kiev. The US reacted in a strongly worded message, with the secretary of state, John Kerry, saying that any military intervention in Ukraine would be a “grave mistake”. “For a country that has spoken out so frequently … against foreign intervention in Libya, in Syria, and elsewhere, it would be important for them to heed those warnings as they think about options in the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” Kerry said last night. Putin had earlier instructed his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, to place Russia’s military in a state of high alert for drills in the western military district, bordering Ukraine. The defence ministry denied the drills had anything to do with the political situation in Kiev, where the government of President Viktor Yanukovych was in effect toppled at the weekend.

But the move comes amid increasingly forthright statements from Moscow that the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine are being infringed. Shoigu told a defence ministry meeting that forces must “be ready to bomb unfamiliar testing grounds” as part of the drill. In his blunt message Kerry also announced the Obama administration was planning $1bn in loan guarantees and additional funding for Ukraine. But he said that US policy towards Ukraine was not aimed at reducing Russia’s influence. “This is not Rocky IV,” Kerry said. “It is not a zero-sum game. We do not view it through the lens of East-West, Russia-US or anything else. We view it as an example of people within a sovereign nation who are expressing their desire to choose their future. And that’s a very powerful force.” Crimea has a largely pro-Russian population and earlier this week Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, warned there was a “serious risk” of separatism in the region. In the regional capital of Simferopol on Wednesday there was a gathering of around 10,000 Crimean Tatars, a Muslim ethnic group that supports the peninsula remaining part of Ukraine. Waving Ukrainian flags they chanted: “Ukraine is not Russia.”

The group clashed with a smaller pro-Russian rally nearby in which participants waved Russian flags. Protesters shouted abuse at each other, with the atmosphere growing more hostile by afternoon. The pro-Russian group swelled to about 5,000 later on as more protesters arrived on buses from the port city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based. A smattering of rocks flew as the two sides engaged in fistfights at the frontline. The anger in the faces of both sides was visible shortly before the violence as they catcalled and jeered at one another and beckoned at each other offering the occasional middle-finger salute. “You’re defending all the millionaires who have stolen the land,” shouted one angry Tatar. The Russians responded with a taunting rally cry of “Berkut, Berkut, Berkut”, a reference to the police special unit responsible for much of the violence against protesters in Kiev last week that left at least 82 dead. “Allahu Akbar!” chanted the Tatars as the other side responded with a rally cry of “Russia, Russia, Russia”. Those in the Tatar camp held signs reading: “Ukraine to Europe.” “We just want to be free,” said Arsen Bilyalov a 36-year-old Tatar.

The clashes resulted in several serious injuries on the Russian side, as well as one death, apparently from a heart attack. The parliamentary session was cancelled as a result of the violence outside. Ukraine’s acting interior minister said he was doing all he could so as not to inflame tensions in Crimea further. “The police and all enforcement bodies in Crimea received instruction from me – at any cost do not provoke any conflict, any military confrontation with the civilians,” Arsen Avakov said.

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Source= The Guardian

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US warns Russia on war games as tensions mount in Ukraine’s Crimea

February 27, 2014

The United States warned Russia it would be a “grave mistake” to intervene militarily in Ukraine, as the Kremlin ordered 150,000 troops to test their combat readiness and armed men seized government buildings in Ukraine’s Crimea region and raised a Russian flag over a barricade. Secretary of State John Kerry issued the stern warning on Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the large-scale military exercises in what many see as a show of force or possible prelude to intervention in Ukraine. “Any kind of military intervention that would violate the sovereign territorial integrity of Ukraine would be a huge, a grave mistake,” Kerry told reporters in Washington. “The territorial integrity of Ukraine needs to be respected.”  In delivering the message, Kerry also announced that the Obama administration was planning $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and would consider additional direct assistance for the former Soviet republic.  Kerry also renewed U.S. demands that Moscow withdraw troops from disputed enclaves in another former Soviet republic, Georgia, and urged Georgia to further integrate with Europe and NATO.

The warning, aid announcement and nudge westward for Georgia all came amid growing tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and were likely to fuel already-heightened Russian suspicions over Western intentions in its backyard. Kerry insisted, however, that that U.S. policy toward Ukraine, Georgia and the other states that once made up the Soviet Union was not aimed at reducing Russia’s influence in its neighborhood. Instead, he maintained that U.S. encouragement for former Soviet states to integrate with the West was driven by America’s desire to see their people realize aspirations for freedom in robust democracies with strong economies. “This is not `Rocky IV’,” Kerry said, referring to the iconic 1985 Sylvester Stallone film in which an aging American boxer takes on a daunting Soviet muscleman. “It is not a zero-sum game. We do not view it through the lens of East-West, Russia-U.S. or anything else. We view it as an example of people within a sovereign nation who are expressing their desire to choose their future. And that’s a very powerful force.” Ukraine’s new government was expected to be formally approved by parliament Thursday. It will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is not only deeply divided politically but on the verge of financial collapse.  Elsewhere, Russian news organization RBK reported Wednesday that Ukraine’s fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, is staying in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside Moscow. Yanukovych has not been seen publicly since Saturday. While the West has recognized the new Ukrainian government, whose forces drove Yanukovych from the capital, Russia still considers him the legitimate president.

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Source = Fox News

USA Today

Ousted Ukraine leader in Russia; armed standoff in Crimea

February 27, 2014

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — Armed men kept hold of the Crimea parliament Thursday as Russian jets streaked near the border and a newly created Ukraine government formed to try to end a crisis that threatens to split the country following the ouster of its president. Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych surfaced Thursday in Russia after having vanished for days following his removal by the Kiev parliament Saturday. He said he was staying in a residence in Russia at the invitation of Moscow and insisted he is still the legitimately elected president of Ukraine, Interfax Ukraine reported.

“Regrettably, what is going on in (parliament) these days is not legitimate,” Yanukovych said, according to Russia’s RBK news organization.

In Kiev, a parliament that includes members of Yanukovych’s party on Thursday chose Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Ukraine’s new prime minister. His first move was to form a new government that can qualify for foreign aid from Europe and the United States. He said Ukraine does not want a fight with Russia but that the country wouldn’t accept the secession of the southern Crimea region. Crimea “has been and will be a part of Ukraine,” said Yatsenyuk, 39, who served as economy minister and parliamentary speaker before Yanukovych took office in 2010. Russian fighter jets were put on combat alert and were patrolling the border as part of exercises ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Russia’s Defense Ministry. It didn’t specify the areas where patrol missions were being conducted.

The Russian military also announced measures to tighten security at the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it would “protect the interests” of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, according to Russian state-owned ITAR-Tass news agency. The ministry said Russia “will have a firm and uncompromising response to violations of the rights of compatriots by foreign states.” Ukrainian Acting President Olexandr Turchinov warned Russian military forces, such as those stationed in Sevastopol, to remain out of the country proper. “Any movement of military servicemen with weapons outside this territory will be viewed as military aggression,” Interfax quoted Turchinov as telling Ukraine’s parliament Thursday.

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Source = USA Today

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SKY NEWS

Ukraine: Russia ‘Won’t Deal With Mutineers’

February 24, 2014

A man takes photos of a "Wanted" notice for fugitive Ukrainian President Yanukovich near Kiev's Independent Square

Russia has said it would not deal with Ukraine’s interim leaders, calling them “armed mutineers” who stole power from President Viktor Yanukovych. The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev questioned their authority and called the situation in the neighbouring country “a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens”. His comments are being seen as the strongest signal yet that Moscow does not want to be drawn into a bidding war with the West over Ukraine. The new acting leaders in Kiev have said they need $35bn (£21bn) to stave off default, as Russia threatened economic punishment. Mr Medvedev did not say a $15bn (£9bn) bailout for the country was dead. However, he signalled a deal that cuts the price Kiev pays for Russian gas had an expiry date and any extension would have to be negotiated. It comes as the White House said the US was ready to provide financial support to boost an International Monetary Fund aid programme.

Obama administration spokesman Jay Carney said: “The United States, working with partners around the world, stands ready to provide support for Ukraine as it takes the reforms it needs to, to get back to economic stability.” The US has stopped short of fully endorsing the country’s interim leader, parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, as its legitimate ruler. Parliament is running the country until elections are held, and the top positions are held by former opposition figures. Ukraine has issued an arrest warrant for Mr Yanukovych, whose main backer is Moscow and whose exact whereabouts remain unknown. He and other officials are wanted by police for the “mass murder” of protesters last week in Kiev.

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Source = Sky News

bbc

Ukraine crisis: Russia steps up Ukraine rhetoric

February 24, 2014

Russia has stepped up its rhetoric against Ukraine’s new Western-leaning leadership as tensions rise over the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said interim authorities in Kiev had conducted an “armed mutiny”. And the Russian foreign ministry said dissenters in mainly Russian-speaking regions faced suppression. Earlier, Ukraine’s interim interior minister said an arrest warrant had been issued for Mr Yanukovych. MPs voted to remove Mr Yanukovych on Saturday. His whereabouts are unknown but he was reported to have been in the Crimean peninsula on Sunday. Russia has already recalled its ambassador to Ukraine for consultation. Unrest in Ukraine began in November when Mr Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia. Mr Medvedev, quoted by Russian news agencies, suggested that Western countries that accepted Ukraine’s new authorities were mistaken.

“The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts,” he said. “Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise. This is some kind of aberration of perception when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny.” He added: “We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens.” Ukraine’s foreign ministry quickly responded to Mr Medvedev’s comments on Russian citizens in Ukraine, saying his concerns were “unfounded”. However, Russia’s foreign ministry also issued a strongly worded statement saying a “forced change of power” was taking place in Ukraine and accused interim leaders of passing new laws “aimed at infringing the humanitarian rights of Russians and other ethnic minorities”.

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Source = BBC News

telegraph

Ukraine: Russia warns that ‘armed mutiny’ means new government is not legitimate

February 24, 2014

Russia’s prime minister denounced an “armed mutiny” in Ukraine as the country’s new post-revolutionary government issued an arrest warrant for Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed president, on Monday. Dmitry Medvedev vented the Kremlin’s anger over the downfall of a pro-Russian regime in a former Soviet republic where Moscow had hoped to retain special influence. As Ukraine’s politicians wrangled over the formation of an interim administration, Mr Medvedev made clear that the country’s new leaders would have no legitimacy in Russia’s eyes. “Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise,” said Mr Medvedev. “This is some kind of aberration of perception, when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny.” There was “no-one for us to communicate with” in Kiev and “we do not understand what is going on there”, added Mr Medvedev as he warned: “There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens.”

His comments were echoed by an angry crowd of more than 1,000 gathered outside the town hall in Sebastopol, the Ukrainian port in the Crimea that is the base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, guarded by about 25,000 Russian troops. Protesters against the interim government called on the city council to appoint a new mayor and “executive committee” to govern the city independently of what they called “the illegitimate regime installed by bandits and fascists” in Kiev. Mr Medvedev’s intervention did nothing to lessen fears in the West that Russia may yet consider some kind of military operation, perhaps under the guise of protecting the largely Russian-speaking population of southern and eastern Ukraine. In another sign of its anger over the course of events, Russia formally recalled its ambassador from Kiev. A statement from the foreign ministry in Moscow later in the day claimed the revolution had set “a course” towards “suppressing dissenters in various regions of Ukraine by dictatorial – and sometimes even terrorist – means”.

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Source = The Telegraph

CNN

Ukraine issues arrest warrant for ousted President Viktor Yanukovych

February 24, 2014

Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) — Ukraine’s ousted President is a wanted man. He’s also a missing man. Viktor Yanukovych is not in Kiev. The mayor of Kharkiv, where Yanukovych was Saturday, says he hasn’t seen him in a few days. He’s also apparently not hiding in a bunker in a Ukrainian Orthodox monastery, a church spokesman said, swatting down the latest speculation. Ukraine’s onetime — and, by his account, current — President is facing a warrant for the “mass killings” of civilians. Over the weekend, he fled to Kharkiv, a pro-Russian stronghold near the border. And he tried to board a charter plane in the eastern city of Donetsk but was turned away because he didn’t have documents.

In his last known public act, he delivered a televised speech Saturday from Kharkiv in which he rejected the parliament’s ouster and vowed to fight. “I don’t plan to leave the country. I don’t plan to resign. I am the legitimate President,” he said Saturday in the televised broadcast. Critics weren’t impressed. “It’s a remarkable situation when the most sought-after character in the country is the President of Ukraine, who is hiding and doing everything to leave the country, to avoid responsibility,” opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said Monday.

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Source = CNN

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Western nations scramble to contain fallout from Ukraine crisis

February 24, 2014

“France, together with its European partners, calls for the preservation of the country’s unity and integrity and for people to refrain from violence,” said Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister.

Western governments are scrambling to contain the fallout from Ukraine’s weekend revolution, pledging money, support and possible EU membership, while anxiously eyeing the response of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, whose protege has been ousted. Seemingly the biggest loser in the three-month drama’s denouement, the Kremlin has the potential to create the most mischief because of Ukraine’s pro-Russian affinities in the east and south, and its dependence on Russian energy supplies. Acting president Oleksander Turchinov said on Sunday night that Ukraine’s new leaders wanted relations with Russia on a “new, equal and good-neighbourly footing that recognises and takes into account Ukraine’s European choice”. But the tension between the Kremlin and the interim government was underlined when Russia recalled its ambassador to Ukraine on Sunday for “consultations” and to “analyse the situation from all sides”, the foreign ministry said. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday, where she is expected to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy.

With the whereabouts of the former president Viktor Yanukovych still uncertain, the Ukrainian parliament legitimised his downfall, giving interim presidential powers to an ally of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former PM who was released from jail on Saturday. Oleksandr Turchinov said the parliament should work to elect a government of national unity by Tuesday, before preparations begin for elections planned for 25 May. Yanukovych appeared on television from an undisclosed location on Saturday night, claiming he was still president and comparing the protesters to Nazis, but he continued to haemorrhage support on Sunday; even the leader of his parliamentary faction said he had betrayed Ukraine, and given “criminal orders”. Western leaders, while welcoming the unexpected turn of events in Kiev, are worried about the country fracturing along pro-Russian and pro-western lines. They are certain to push for a new government that is as inclusive as possible to replace the collapsed and discredited administration of Yanukovych, who vanished within hours of signing an EU-mediated settlement with opposition leaders on Friday.

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Source = The Guardian

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EuroNews

Ukraine’s parliament dismisses President Yanukovych

February 22, 2014

Ukraine’s political landscape changed dramatically when the parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych in a special session on Saturday. Members of the parliament, which decisively abandoned Yanukovich after this week’s bloodshed, stood, applauded and sang the national anthem after they declared the president constitutionally unable to carry out his duties. They voted for new presidential elections on the 25th of May. It was by a more than two thirds majority, which makes the decision legal under Ukraine’s constitution. The lawmakers also voted to replace the head of the security services and the prosecutor general with supporters of the opposition. And the replacement for the defence minister is the former chief of staff of the armed forces, who was dismissed by Yanukovych just days before for refusing to send in troops against the demonstrators in Independence Square.

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Source = Euro News

SKY NEWS

Yulia Tymoshenko: Ukraine’s Cancer Has Gone

February 22, 2014

Ukraine’s opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko has told anti-government protesters they have removed a “cancer” from the country, after she was earlier freed from prison. “You are heroes, you are the best of Ukraine,” the former prime minister said, before breaking down in tears. She told the 50,000-strong crowd in Kiev’s Independence Square they had no right to leave the area “until you have concluded everything that you planned to do”.

“Don’t stop yet,” she implored them.

Sitting in a wheelchair, Ms Tymoshenko said President Viktor Yanukovych should be forced to come to the square, the focal point of demonstrations against him. Mr Yanukovych has since gone into hiding after Parliament voted to oust him. She was earlier freed from prison after being given a seven-year sentence for abuse of power and has pledged to stand for president. Demonstrators took to the streets last November over Mr Yanukovych’s decision to have closer ties with Russia rather than Europe. Clashes between protesters and police have killed 82 people, the worst violence since the country gained independence. On the subject of ties with Europe, Ms Tymoshenko is “sure” Ukraine will join the European Union “and this will change everything”.

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Source = Sky News

Mirror

Ukraine police have opened fire on Red Cross medics – shocking pictures

February 23, 2014

A medic writhes in agony after being shot in the leg by Ukraine security forces, accused of deliberately targeting Red Cross workers as they tend to wounded protesters. Other images show armed riot police dressed all in black, known as Berkut, taking aim at others wearing bright high-vis jackets marked with a cross. The latest victim was hit on Friday. Colleague Lyana Bilous, 24, called for those responsible to be brought before a United Nations tribunal. “He was a legitimate health worker wearing a bright orange jacket, part of the Ukrainian Red Cross,” she said. “There is no way you could have mistaken him for anything other than a medic.”

Professor Robert Van Voren, a Dutch human rights activist who has helped medics over the three months of violence in Kiev, added: “We saw Berkut beating up medical staff wearing red crosses.” Expat IT worker Chris Taylor, 37, from Southport, Merseyside, said in January, riot police smashed up a medical centre and beat up one of the doctors. Human Rights Watch have documented incidents of criminal abuse of medics by security forces and called for those responsible to be prosecuted as it breaches the Geneva Convention.

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Source = The Mirror

BBC News

Ukraine ex-PM Tymoshenko calls for protests to continue

February 23, 2014

Ukrainian former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has urged opposition supporters in Kiev’s Independence Square to continue their protests. Tymoshenko, who has a back injury, addressed crowds from a wheelchair after being freed from detention. “Until you finish this job… nobody has the right to leave,” she said. Her speech came at the end of a dramatic day that saw President Viktor Yanukovych removed by MPs and fleeing Kiev, but refusing to stand down. Tymoshenko broke down in tears as she told cheering supporters late on Saturday: “You are heroes.

“Because nobody could… do what you have done,” she said. “We’ve eliminated this cancer, this tumour.”

But while she was hailed by many in the audience, she does not enjoy universal support among the opposition, says the BBC’s David Stern in Kiev. Before she went into prison in 2011, her popularity ratings were dropping and many Ukrainians blame her in part for the chaos of the post-Orange Revolution years, or see her as a member of Ukraine’s corrupt elite. Dozens of people walked away in disgust when she appeared on the stage, the BBC’s Tim Wilcox in Independence Square reports. A vote by parliament on Friday paved the way for her release.

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Source = BBC News

telegraph

Ukraine revolution: West urges calm and quick formation of a unity government

February 23, 2014

The US and France have urged Ukraine to move swiftly to form a unity government and help restore order after a spate of deadly violence. Months of protests turned violent this week, with scores killed in clashes between demonstrators and police. Under a European-mediated plan, protest leaders and President Viktor Yanukovych agreed on Friday to form a new government and hold early elections. By Saturday, protesters had taken over the capital of Kiev and seized the president’s office as parliament voted to remove him, hold new elections and release his chief rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, from prison. Mr Yanukovych called it a coup and insisted he would not step down.

Urging calm, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the US was keen to see the prompt formation of a broad, technocratic government of national unity. “We have consistently advocated a de-escalation of violence, constitutional change, a coalition government, and early elections, and today’s developments could move us closer to that goal,” Mr Carney said in a statement. “The unshakeable principle guiding events must be that the people of Ukraine determine their own future.” The US also welcomed Ms Tymoshenko’s release from a prison hospital. “We continue to urge an end to violence by all sides and a focus on peaceful, democratic dialogue, working pursuant to Ukraine’s constitution and through its institutions of government,” Mr Carney said, adding that the US will continue to work with its allies, Russia, and European and international organisations “to support a strong, prosperous, unified, and democratic Ukraine.”

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Source = The Telegraph

EuroNews

Tymoshenko hails “heroes of Maidan” and calls for more protests

February 22, 2014

Ukraine’s opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has called for continued demonstrations in the Ukrainian capital. Her powerful and passionate plea for further protests against the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych capped an extraordinary day of events. It came hours after parliament approved a measure allowing the former prime minister to be freed after spending 30 months in jail for abuse of power. “Glory to Ukraine. My dears, I was dreaming of looking into your eyes, I was dreaming of feeling that strength that changed everything. I was dreaming of touching every single one of you to support you in this difficult moment. You are the heroes. You are the best asset of Ukraine,” she said.

She paid special tribute to the 82 people now known to have died in this week’s violent clashes. Tymoshenko, 53, also broke down in tears several times, asking the crowd to forgive her and other politicians for failing them. “We must do a few important things together. Firstly, we have to ensure that Yanukovych and all that garbage around him are brought here to Maidan,” added Tymoshenko. Her words were welcomed by most in the crowd but some people whistled and booed, a sign perhaps that Tymoshenko remains a controversial figure.

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Source = Euro News

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bbc

Ukrainian president and opposition sign early poll deal

February 21, 2014

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders have signed a deal leading to an early presidential poll before the end of the year. The election is part of an agreement to end the country’s political crisis. The deal provides for a national unity government, electoral reform and constitutional changes reducing the president’s power. The compromise came after hours of talks, mediated by three European Union foreign ministers. The German and Polish ministers met protest leaders, who later announced that they backed the deal.

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Source = BBC News

Sky News UK

Ukraine Opposition Signs Deal With President

February 21, 2014

A deal to end the crisis in Ukraine has taken a major step forward after protesters agreed to a compromise by the president to form a coalition government. Opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok said a council representing protesters in Independence Square backed the deal on condition that the current interior minister and prosecutor-general are excluded from any interim government. The protesters’ refusal to agree had formed a major obstacle in getting the deal signed. The three opposition leaders – Mr Tyahnybok, Vitali Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk – met with President Viktor Yanukovych at the presidential HQ in Kiev to sign the deal. In a statement on his website, Mr Yanukovych announced presidential elections would take place this year and promised to form a coalition government. The elections had been due to take place in March 2015. He also promised to revert to the country’s 2004 constitution which will trim presidential powers – one of the key demands of protesters.

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Source = Sky News

bbc

EU imposes Ukraine sanctions after deadly Kiev clashes

February 21, 2014

The EU has agreed to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials “responsible for violence and excessive force” after the bloodiest day of clashes in Kiev. In a statement, EU foreign ministers said targeted sanctions including asset freezes and visa bans would be introduced “as a matter of urgency”. Dozens of anti-government protesters died in Kiev on Thursday. Many were reportedly killed by snipers. In all, 75 people – including policemen – have been killed since Tuesday.

In addition to those, Ukraine’s health ministry also said that 571 were injured during three days of violence in the Ukrainian capital. Protesters had captured 67 police, the interior ministry said. A number of them were later released by activists on the main protest camp in Independence Square – widely known as the Maidan. The tense stand-off is continuing overnight, with the activists standing guard on the Maidan barricades for possible new police attacks.

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Source = BBC News

telegraph

Ukraine crisis: Deadly snipers extinguish lives of Kiev’s protesters

February 20, 2014

For a moment, the white blanket serving as a shroud fell back, revealing the dead man’s frozen face and a crimson bullet wound on the left side of his head. A single round penetrating above the ear had killed this Ukrainian protester, who looked to be in his 20s. His corpse lay beside those of six of his comrades under the awning of a café in the heart of Kiev on Thursday. “It was a sniper,” said Dr Vasyl Lukach as he stood beside the bodies, placed carefully in two rows. “They all have one or two bullets each in the head or in the neck. It was a professional.” Like many other medical personnel, Dr Lukach has volunteered to care for the protesters massed in Independence Square. As he spoke, an eighth corpse arrived on a green stretcher, followed closely by a ninth.

Both were shrouded in blankets, but as the last body was laid down, the cover slipped to reveal another pale face with mouth agape — and the matted blood of a telltale head wound. The huddle of doctors and protesters at this makeshift morgue on the pavement of a European capital needed no further proof. “Sniper” was the word they whispered. As if to emphasise their point, a volley of shots rang across Independence Square. Minutes later, a 10th body arrived to the echo of sporadic gunfire. This time, the dead man was fully shrouded and his face invisible, but the white cloth over his head was bloodstained.

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Source = The Telegraph

The Mail UK

Bodies litter the streets as Kiev plunges into new savagery: Police snipers use live ammunition and protestors take officers hostage

February 20, 2014

Violence exploded on the streets of Kiev again yesterday as clashes between riot police and protesters plumbed new depths of savagery. The bodies of 20 civilians lay strewn on the ground after riot police were authorised to use live ammunition in place of rubber bullets. There were reports of snipers firing at protesters. And, in a chilling twist, the demonstrators took at least 67 police officers hostage, according to Ukraine’s interior ministry. As many as 70 are believed to have died and up to 500 injured – on what was supposed to be a day of mourning for those killed earlier this week.

Ukraine 2014

Protesters hurled petrol bombs and paving slabs at police in a three-hour battle to recapture Independence Square, where former hotels have become makeshift mortuaries. Just hours earlier President Viktor Yanukovych had agreed a truce with opposition leaders ‘with the aim of ending bloodshed’. But after the Ukrainian leader met an EU delegation of German, Polish and French foreign ministers to discuss a ‘road map’ to peace, demonstrators held police captive in Kiev’s occupied city hall.

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Source = The Mail

Sky News UK

Kiev: ’70 Protesters Die As Police Held Hostage

February 21, 2014

At least 70 anti-government protesters have reportedly been killed after police fired live rounds near Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital Kiev. The claim was made by a doctor working with the activists, who said more than 500 demonstrators had been injured and warned the death toll could rise further. Meanwhile, the interior ministry said protesters had taken 67 police officers hostage, thought to be in the occupied city hall. Hotel lobbies have been turned into makeshift hospitals, where some of the injured activists were given emergency treatment. It was the deadliest day of clashes in three months of protests in the capital. Government snipers apparently fired at demonstrators after petrol bombs were hurled at police lines. Armed protesters then returned gunfire.

The interior ministry said authorities had repeatedly warned activists they were breaking the law. Residents have been told by police not to go outside, and Kiev’s mayor has resigned from the ruling party in protest over the bloodshed. The city’s health department said 67 people had been killed since Tuesday. EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed to impose sanctions on officials held responsible for the violence, including a travel ban and asset freeze on close allies of Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych. He has been discussing a possible “roadmap” with German, French and Polish foreign ministers to try to end the crisis and was willing to hold early elections this year, according to reports.

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Source = Sky News

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bbc

Ukraine crisis: EU sanctions push over Kiev bloodshed

February 19, 2014

Europe’s leaders are to consider urgent sanctions against Ukraine after the worst violence in months of unrest claimed at least 26 lives. Violence that began on Tuesday continued through the night as police tried to uproot the protest stronghold in the capital Kiev. President Viktor Yanukovych blamed opposition leaders and Russia spoke of an attempted coup. But the EU said it expected measures to target those behind the “repression”. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso spoke of the responsibility of “the political leadership” while several EU countries said they had no doubts that the Ukrainian authorities were to blame. With an emergency meeting due to take place on Thursday, EU leaders have been expressing concern:

  • At a joint news conference, French President Francois Hollande said those responsible for the violence “will be sanctioned” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed the threat, saying they were “side by side with the men and women who suffer”
  • Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said: “I will today hold talks with the leaders of the biggest EU countries and European institutions, and persuade them to impose sanctions – personal and financial”
  • Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said President Yanukovych had “blood on his hands”

Police launched two assaults on Kiev’s Independence Square, also known as the Maidan, in an attempt to regain control of the sprawling area that has been in the hands of protesters for several months.

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Source = BBC News

telegraph

Ukraine protests: ‘Both sides have decided this is the showdown’

February 19, 2014

Ukraine’s political crisis turned deadly on Tuesday, with at least twenty-five people reported killedand scores injured in violent clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police in Kiev. The clashes outside parliament erupted after the opposition accused the government of ignoring its demands in the nearly three-month long protests. The Health Ministry said 25 people had been killed in the fighting in the capital, of which nine were police officers. Many were killed by gunshot and hundreds of people were injured, with dozens in serious condition, with reports that the police are using live rounds. The Telegraph’s Roland Oliphant reporting from Kiev, said while Ukraine has been rocked periodically by political turmoil since last year, it has never experienced violence on this scale.

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Source = The Telegraph

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Ukraine crisis: violence leaves 25 dead and more than 200 injured

February 19, 2014

The bloodiest night in independent Ukraine’s history left at least 25 people dead and more than 200 injured, after further violent clashes in the centre of Kiev. Armed riot police clashed with protesters armed with clubs and molotov cocktails as they tried to take back Independence Square, the hub of the protests against President Viktor Yanukovych’s government over the past three months. By morning, they had taken back about a third of the square, which has become a scene of charred devastation. The health ministry said 25 people were dead, including nine police officers.

Yanukovych said the political opposition leaders had “crossed a line” by not condemning the violent protests, and spoke of stark consequences for them if they did not distance themselves from the violence. “I again call on the leaders of the opposition … to draw a boundary between themselves and radical forces which are provoking bloodshed and clashes with the security services,” said the president in a statement. “If they don’t want to leave [the square], they should acknowledge that they are supporting radicals. Then the conversation with them will already be of a different kind.” Crowds have occupied parts of Kiev for nearly three months, with the focus on Independence Square, a huge space in the centre of the capital. Previous attempts by the authorities to clear the square with riot police used enough force to radicalise the crowds and energise the protest, but not enough to disperse them entirely, and over time the tents, barricades and fortifications have become more entrenched.

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Source = The Guardian

IOC bans Ukraine’s athletes from wearing black armbands at Sochi

February 19, 2014

The International Olympic Committee has banned Ukrainian competitors at the Sochi winter Games from wearing black armbands to commemorate the deaths of protesters and police in Kiev.  The country’s Olympic association said in a statement that it had asked the IOC if its competitors could mark the “deep pain over the loss of fellow countrymen” by wearing black armbands. “The answer was received from the IOC that in accordance with the Olympic charter it is not possible to do this.” Sponsor logos are everywhere at the Olympics, but the IOC regularly bans anything it deems to be political. It has also banned helmet sticker tributes to Sarah Burke, a skier who died in a 2012 accident, at Sochi. Sergey Bubka, the Ukrainian pole-vaulting hero and leader of his country’s delegation to Sochi, appealed on his Twitter account to both sides to stop the violence: “I want to bring Olympic truce to my country. Dialogue is power, violence is weakness,” he wrote. “Our athletes are competing hard in Sochi, but peacefully and with honour. Violence has no place in the World.”

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Source = The Guardian

Kiev Ukraine News

After 25 Die, Protesters Prepare To Stand Their Ground In Ukraine

February 19, 2014

After the deaths of 25 people in clashes a day earlier, Ukrainian protesters are prepared to stand and fight again Wednesday. Police want to clear them out of central Kiev. Some of them died trying to stay put — using projectiles and burning barricades to keep security forces at bay at Kiev’s Maidan, or Independence Square. It was the deadliest day in the months-long standoff between the government and opposition leaders. Thousands of demonstrators have packed Independence Square since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia. The unrest intensified after an anti-protest law went into effect. Throngs of demonstrators took to the streets to protest the law.

“Some of them had broken hands, and blood was flowing down their faces,”

Police and protesters were among Tuesday’s dead. A journalist and a government employee died, too. More than 240 others were hospitalized, Ukraine’s health ministry said. Overnight, demonstrators stocked up, passing stones hand to hand, filling Molotov cocktails and stoking flaming barricades with wood and tires. They prepared a makeshift compressed-air cannon to catapult the projectiles into police ranks. Hundreds of others came out to give moral support to those holding the square and to add their numbers to the throng wanting to keep the opposition movement alive. Corporate lawyer Volodymyr Solohub was one of them. Whenever police threaten to clear the Maidan he goes there. Tuesday, he watched as protesters rushed injured people from the front lines to medics.

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Source = Kiev Ukraine News

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Reuters

At least nine die on worst day of Ukraine protest violence

February 18, 2014

(Reuters) – Ukrainian protesters hurled petrol bombs, fireworks and stones at riot police on Tuesday, and at least nine people died in the worst day of violence since demonstrations erupted against President Viktor Yanukovich 12 weeks ago. Western powers warned Yanukovich against trying to smash the pro-European demonstrations and opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko, fearing an assault, urged women and children to leave Kiev’s central Maidan square “to avoid further victims”. A police spokeswoman said seven civilians and two policemen had died in Tuesday’s clashes.

Forces loyal to the Russian-backed leader broke through front-line barricades near the Dynamo Kiev football stadium and marched to the edge of occupied Independence Square (Maidan). They moved in hours after Moscow gave Ukraine $2 billion in aid which it had been holding back to demand decisive action to crush the protests. Nationwide protests against Yanukovich erupted in November after he bowed to Russian pressure and pulled out of a planned far-reaching trade agreement with the European Union, deciding instead to accept a Kremlin bailout for the former Soviet republic’s heavily indebted economy. In what has become a geo-political tussle redolent of the Cold War, the United States and its Western allies are urging Yanukovich to turn back to Europe and the prospect of an IMF-supported economic recovery, while Russia accuses them of meddling.

Clashes raged for several hours on Tuesday outside the parliament building, where opposition lawmaker Lesya Orobets said three demonstrators were killed and taken to a nearby officers’ club used as a medical centre. More than 100 people were injured, she said. “Three bodies of our supporters are in the building. Another seven are close to dying (because of wounds),” she said on her Facebook page. Two more bodies were lying in front of a Metro station on the southeastern side of the square, a photographer told Reuters. The police spokeswoman said the two officers and three protesters died of gunshot wounds. Two more protesters suffered heart attacks while one died in a fire and another in a traffic accident. The State Security Service (SBU), in a joint statement with the interior ministry, set protesters a 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) deadline to end street disorder or face “tough measures”.

“If by 6 p.m. the disturbances have not ended, we will be obliged to restore order by all means envisaged by law,” the statement said. The defence ministry issued a separate warning to protesters to evacuate the officers’ club near parliament. Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion who leads one of three main opposition groups, told protesters on the occupied square: “We cannot exclude the possibility of use of force in an assault on the Maidan.”

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Source = Reuters

bbc

Ukraine: Deadly clashes around parliament in Kiev

February 18, 2014

Violent clashes have erupted during anti-government protests in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, with at least nine people, including two policemen, dead. In the worst violence in weeks, police used rubber bullets and stun grenades as thousands of protesters marching on parliament. A deadline set by the security forces for the violence to end has passed with no immediate sign of police action. The clashes came as MPs were due to debate changes to the constitution. The proposals would curb the powers of President Viktor Yanukovych, but the opposition say they were blocked from submitting their draft, meaning no debate could take place.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was “deeply worried” by the escalation of violence, and urged politicians to “address the root causes”. Russia blamed the upsurge in violence on “connivance by Western politicians and European structures” and their refusal to consider the “aggressive actions” of radical factions within the protest movement. Ukraine’s unrest began in November, when Mr Yanukovych rejected a deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia. The mood had calmed in recent days, but protest camps remain on the streets and the opposition – which insists the president must resign – had warned the government it risked inflaming tensions if it failed to act.

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Source = BBC News

telegraph

‘Golden eagles’ storm protestor’s barricades in Kiev’s day of bloodshed

February 18, 2014

Ukraine’s demonstrators have feared a government assault on their main camp ever since they occupied large areas of central Kiev in December. Last night, that dreaded scenario appeared to come to pass when the security forces – including specialist riot police known as the “golden eagles” – were turned on the protesters with unprecedented ferocity. They broke through the biggest barricade on Grushevskogo street, once defended by hundreds of club-wielding demonstrators wearing masks, and recaptured Ukrainian House, a public building only a few hundred yards from the biggest protest camp in Independence Square, universally known as the “Maidan”. For the first time since the rallies began, the security forces penetrated this citadel, using tear gas, baton rounds and water cannon to suppress their opponents. Once inside the Maidan, they set the tents ablaze, lighting up Kiev’s version of Trafalgar Square with fire.

But thousands of protesters fought back and their leaders were still able to voice defiance. As flames burned around him, Vitaly Klitschko, the leader of the second biggest opposition party in Parliament, mounted a stage in the Maidan and declared: “We will not go anywhere from here. This is an island of freedom and we will defend it.” The opposition issued a general call for its supporters to flock to the Maidan. But the security forces, anticipating this move, sealed off the arterial roads leading to central Kiev and shut down the capital’s metro system. The interior ministry said that an “anti-terrorist” operation was underway and urged all women and children to leave the Maidan. The demonstrators had “crossed the line”, said a joint statement from the ministry and the internal security service, adding: “If atrocities do not stop by 1800, we will have to clean up this disorder by all means provided by law.” As the flames rose from the wreckage of the protest camp, at least nine people lay dead – two policemen and seven demonstrators – making this the bloodiest day that Ukraine has suffered since the country won independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Source = The Telegraph

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Ukraine: at least a dozen people killed in Kiev clashes

February 18, 2014

Hopes for a settlement of Ukraine‘s three-month crisis are evaporating amid scenes of rioting, burning buildings, police bombings and rubber bullets in Kiev that left up to thirteen people reported dead and nearly 200 seriously injured. A large section of the protest camp in the capital, Kiev, was engulfed in flames on Tuesday night as police advanced on the demonstrators using water cannons and stun grenades. The security services had earlier issued a warning, ordering tens of thousands of protesters to get off the streets by Tuesday evening or face a crackdown. The violence was some of the worst since a government-opposition confrontation erupted last November, and came after President Viktor Yanukovych, the main target of the protests, stalled on outlines of an agreement to appoint a new technocratic coalition government or to have his powers cut back.

Opposition organisers said seven civilians had been killed and around 150 injured, many seriously. The authorities said six police officers were killed and 39 officers sustained gunshot wounds. Columns of riot police sought to banish crowds of protesters from encroaching on the country’s parliament, while demonstrators also partially ransacked offices of Yanukovych’s political party. “Extremists are killing innocents on the streets of the capital, burning buildings and cars,” the statement from the security services said. “Unless the disorder stops, we will have to restore order by all means envisaged by law.” Both police and opposition leaders called on women and children to leave the protest camp on Kiev’s iconic Independence Square, known as the Maidan, as riot police began their assault. There were reports that riot police were firing smoke and stun grenades. Opposition sources said police snipers were firing on demonstrators from rooftops. According to reports, security services began moving in at around 6pm GMT after announcing over loudspeakers that they were about to conduct “an anti-terror operation”.

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Source = The Guardian

telegraph

Kiev protests: Dangers ahead for Ukraine

January 22, 2014

For successive Ukrainian governments, it has long been a standard strategy to prosecute, jail and occasionally poison political opponents. Human rights groups will complain, the European Union will tut, but the chances of getting hit with sanctions are unlikely, and besides, Vladimir Putin in Moscow is always there for backup. As President Viktor Yanukovych may be about to find out, though, there is just one problem with treating one’s rivals this way: it means they aren’t there just when you really need them most. With huge anti-government demonstrations in the capital, Kiev, now escalating into open street warfare, the best option for Mr Yanukovych to restore calm now have been to reach out to the leaders of the mainstream opposition. Cue a transitional government of national unity, and a little breathing space ahead of the next scheduled elections in February 2015.

Unfortunately, the mainstream opposition is itself in disarray, not least because its best-known leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, the blonde-haired face of the 2004 Orange Revolution, is currently serving a seven-year jail sentence on corruption charges. So instead of credible leaders to talk to, Mr Yanukovych has only angry crowds, few of whom so far seem intimidated by last week’s draconian new laws forbidding nearly all forms of legitimate protest. “It is a very volatile situation,” says James Sherr, of the London-based foreign policy think tank, Chatham House. “Unlike the Orange Revolution of 2004, there is an absence of any effective and coherent opposition. The government has no one but a mob to negotiate with, although this is a situation they have created themselves.”

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Source = The Telegraph

guardian logo

Ukraine protests: three protesters killed

January 22, 2014

At least three people died in a day of violence in Kiev on Wednesday, as an opposition leader said he was willing to face “a bullet in the forehead” if President Viktor Yanukovych did not launch snap elections. A three-hour meeting between the embattled president and the three main political opposition leaders ended without a deal, leaving the capital braced for intensified violence. Two men died from bullet wounds on Wednesday, according to Ukraine’s general prosecutor, while the third died after falling from a rooftop while fighting with police. Protesters report that dozens of people have been seriously injured during the clashes, which have been running since Sunday evening.

Central Kiev resembled a battlefield last night, with police firing rubber bullets and wielding truncheons, while protesters lobbed molotov cocktails. The two men who were shot were killed with live ammunition, the authorities admitted. Former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, now an opposition politician, said Yanukovych had 24 hours in which to call snap elections, and demanded another meeting with the president on Thursday. If this did not happen, he said, the opposition would “go on the attack”. His words were met by loud cheers from the crowd on Independence Square, hub of the protests.

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Source = The Guardian

BBC News

Ukraine: Police and protesters clash in Kiev

January 22, 2014

Two protesters have been killed in clashes with police in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Prosecutors confirmed they had died from bullet wounds. They are the first fatalities since anti-government protests began in November. Wednesday’s clashes began after police moved in to dismantle a protest camp. After talks with President Viktor Yanukovych, one opposition leader, Vitali Klitschko, threatened to lead protesters “on the attack”.

“Today they [the police] are preparing to clear us out of the Maidan (Independence Square),” Mr Klitschko declared. “We must do all we can to stop them clearing us out.” He said the president could end the stand-off by calling early elections but that “tomorrow, if the president does not respond… then we will go on the attack”, to roars of approval from the crowd.

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Source = BBC News

TheWorldPost

Kiev Protesters Clash With Police

January 22, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Anti-government protests in Ukraine’s capital escalated into fiery street battles with police Sunday as thousands of demonstrators hurled rocks and firebombs to set police vehicles ablaze. Dozens of officers and protesters were injured. Police responded with stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons, but were outnumbered by the protesters. Many of the riot police held their shields over their heads to protect themselves from the projectiles thrown by demonstrators on the other side of a cordon of buses. The violence was a sharp escalation of Ukraine’s two-month political crisis, which has brought round-the-clock protest gatherings, but had been largely peaceful. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko tried to persuade demonstrators to stop their unrest, but failed and was sprayed by a fire extinguisher in the process. Klitschko later traveled to President Viktor Yanukovych’s suburban residence and said the president has agreed to negotiate.

“There are only two ways for events to develop. The first one is not to negotiate,” Klitschko was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “A scenario of force can be unpredictable and I don’t rule out the possibility of a civil war. … And here we are using all possibilities in order to prevent bloodshed.” Yanukovych said later on his Web site that he has tasked a working group, headed by national security council head Andriy Klyuev, to meet with opposition representatives to work out a solution to the crisis. However, it was unclear if either side was prepared for real compromise; throughout the crisis, the opposition has insisted on the government’s resignation and calling early presidential elections.

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Source = The World Post

yahoo

Ukraine prosecutors: 2 dead men hit by live ammo

January 22, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Two people were shot to death early Wednesday in anti-government protests in Ukraine, the first fatalities in the increasingly heated clashes with police in the streets of the Ukrainian capital, raising concerns that the movement is spiraling into a more dangerous phase of violence. Medics at the site said a third man died after he fell from a high point near a sports arena at the site of clashes, but Natalia Vishnevska, spokeswoman for the city health department, said that man survived the fall and was being treated in the hospital.

The protesters’ deaths fueled fears that daily protests aimed at bringing down the government over its decision to shun the European Union for closer ties to Moscow and over human rights violations could turn even more violent. Prosecutors said the two men were shot with live ammunition, and have opened a criminal investigation to determine who was responsible. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the police did not have live ammunition and charged that opposition leaders should be held responsible for the deaths. One of the victims has been identified by opposition leaders and doctors treating protesters as Sergei Nigoyan, a 20-year-old ethnic Armenian who came from the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk in early December to join the protests on Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan.

A video shows Nigoyan reciting poetry by the famed Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, standing in the protest camp and clenching his fist in a sign of victory, as a Ukrainian yellow-and-blue flag flaps in the wind.Respected Ukrainian journalist Kristina Berdinskikh, who has been profiling protesters for several weeks, interviewed Nigoyan in early January. “I saw on TV what is happening on the Maidan, I didn’t sleep at night, I was following the news,” Nagoyan told Berdinshkikh, according to a transcript she posted online. “Then I decided to come. This is also my future.”

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Source = Yahoo News

The Independent

Ukraine passes anti-protest law

January 22, 2014

Supporters of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich have hustled a sweeping law through parliament in an attempt to curb anti-government protests, sparking an outcry from the opposition and raising tensions on the streets. The law, backed by deputies from Yanukovich’s Regions Party and allies, also adopted a similar stance to Russia on registration of foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs), insisting they should pay taxes on profit. NGOs that were financed from abroad and took part in political activity in Ukraine would be categorised as “foreign agents”, it said. But the law, which ran to more than 100 pages, appeared directed mainly at preparing the ground for action to end the street protests that have been taking place in the capital Kiev and some other cities since November.

Yanukovich’s refusal at that time to sign a free trade deal with the European Union in favour of boosting ties with Ukraine’s former Soviet master Russia brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets in protest. Though numbers have dwindled since, several hundred people remain camped out on Kiev’s central square of Kiev or are occupying public buildings such as City Hall. On Sunday, at least 50,000 people demonstrated against Yanukovich in Kiev. The law, which still needs Yanukovich’s signature, bans any unauthorised installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places, on pain of a fine of up to £390 or up to 15 days in detention.

People and organisations who provide facilities or equipment for such meetings will be liable to a fine of up £780 or detention of up to 10 days. Opposition politicians regularly use a stage on the square to broadcast messages of support to the protesters, and the law will clearly make such action illegal. Other tough but vaguely-worded threats envisage jail sentences ranging from two to 15 years for offences involving stopping people entering buildings or “mass violation” of public order. Protest ‘motorcades’ involving more than five vehicles, like those staged outside government residences including that of Yanukovich in recent weeks, were also banned. The decision in parliament, taken by a sudden show of hands that caught the opposition off-guard, followed a court ban on protests in Kiev, boosting opposition fears of an imminent police crackdown.

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Source = The Independent

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