Ukraine in Transition: Continuing coverage
Since February 18th, clashes intensified between anti-government protesters and police in Kyiv with 82 people killed and hundreds injured. Following a brokered peace agreement on February 21st, Viktor Yanukovych fled his post as president allowing for a new interim government to take power. An interim parliament is now in power and new elections for president is set for May 25th.
Ukraine is now a country in transition from post-revolution to stabilisation. As the situation continues to unfold and develop, we will continue our coverage.
Most Recent Updates (Updated 28th February 2014 15:25 CET)
YANUKOVYCH RESURFACES IN RUSSIA. UPDATES FROM UKRAINE
On February 28th ousted Presdient Viktor Yanukovych held a press conference in Russia. During the conference Yanukovych asserted that he is the legal president of Ukraine and that the government now running the country in Kyiv is illegal.
Below are some quotes from the press conference:
“I am the legitimate president of Ukraine. I do not accept any impeachment.”
“I wanted to apologize to all the veterans, the Ukrainian nation for not having enough power to maintain stability.”
“I will do everything in power to be together with the Ukrainian nation.”
“I have never signed any of the new laws adopted by the parliament, which means they cannot come into force.”
“It was the West that initiated this crisis. They backed the Maidan, and they have to take full responsibility for this.”
“Russia cannot stay indifferent, and cannot stand aside, Russia needs to use any leverage it has to prevent the chaos and the terror that is unfolding in Ukraine.”
“I will return to Ukraine, only when I receive assurances of my personal safety.”
“To those in power in Kyiv – think twice about your next move. Leave your posts, don’t allow more violence to fall upon the Ukrainian nation.”
Why did he escape?
“I didn’t escape anywhere. I went from Kyiv to Kharkiv. If I had stayed in Kyiv, I would have been shot by an automatic weapon.
“Everything that is happening in Crimea is a natural reaction to the bandit upheaval.”
What should be done now – according to Yanukovych?
– Implement the agreement that was signed with the participation of the ministries of foreign affairs of Poland and Germany
– Carry out presidential elections in December 2014
– Adopt a new constitution
– The Parliament of Ukraine has confirmed the new government with Arseniy Yatseniuk as the new prime minister.
– The Crimean parliament has announced a referendum regarding greater autonomy to be held on May 25th. The new Kyiv government has announced that such a referendum would be illegal.
– Near the borders of Ukraine are Russian military exercises.
– Early morning on February 27th, a group of up to 60 armed insurgents has taken over the Crimean parliament in the capital of Simferopol. The group immediately raised the Russian flag on the parliament building.
– Ukrainian media reports that Interior Forces in Crimea and the entire police personnel have been put on a state of alert following the events in Simferopol.
– The makeup of a new interim government was presented to the crowd at Maidan on the evening of February 26th. Leader of the Batkivschyna party, Arseniy Yatseniuk, was nominated for the position of prime minister. Several politicians were listed as candidates for most ministries, but many faces from the leadership of the Maidan protests were also presented; Yevhen Nischuk, for minister of culture, Oleh Musiy, for minister of health, and Dmytro Bulatov for minister of sport and youth. The full list can be found via the Kyiv Post.
– The special internal military force known as Berkut has been liquidated by the new interim Ukrainian government.
– Josh Black for New Eastern Europe: Europe Must Not Let the Far-Right Ruin Ukraine’s Moment
– Now freed, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced that she will head to Germany for medical treatment.
– Ukraine’s parliament announced that Thursday it will finalise the new interim government.
– Parliament has voted to send the case surrounding former president Viktor Yanukovych to The Hague’s International Criminal Court to be tried over violence that led to at least 82 deaths in Kyiv last week.
– Opposition leader Vitaliy Klitschko has confirmed that he will run for president during the special elections to be held on May 25th.
– EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton met with the interim government and interm president in Kyiv on February 24th and 25th. Ashton called for a new government in Ukraine that is inclusive and promised significant support on behalf of the EU and the International Monetary Fund.
– Igor Lyubashenko for New Eastern Europe: this process taking place now in Ukraine can be healing for western European democracy itself. Whether Ukraine’s political new quality will be “better” or “worse” – it depends on us as well. Read Igor’s whole commentary: https://www.neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1107-a-historic-chance-not-to-waste
– Reports surfaced today that Yanukovych is currently at the Russian military base at Sevastopol. These reports are still unconfirmed.
– Ukraine’s new government issued an arrest warrant for ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych on charges of “mass murder”.
– Ukrainian Finance ministry today announced that its country needs at least
– Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said today that Russia does not recognise the new government in Kyiv.
February 22nd and 23rd
– Yulia Tymoshenko is free. Here is one of the first photos after her release.
– Parliament voted and passed resolution to oust Viktor Yanukovych as president of Ukraine and set new elections for May 25 2014.
– Despite rumours of his resignation, Viktor Yanukovych has appeared on TV calling recent parliament activity illegal, will refuse to sign any bills.
– Despite what appears to be a victory for the EuroMaidan revolution, cautioned is still urged. Polish journalist Tomasz Piechal reporting from Kyiv:
“Even though everything suggests that the revolution has won in Kyiv, people are far from being overjoyed. Too much blood, too many victims. It’s a sad victory. There are still grieving masses on the Maidan. Everybody, speaking with one voice, knows that although they have won with the authorities, now they will have to deal with a weak opposition. The politicians have completely lost the trust of the society; people are mad at them and will be very careful in holding them accountable for every decision. They are scared that the flight of Yanukovych and his team to Kharkiv will end with bloodshed over there.”
– On February 21 2014 a peace agreement brokered by Polish and German foreign ministers, President Yankovych, the opposition and the EuroMaidan council was agreed and signed in Kyiv.
The deal allows for:
1) A return to the 2004 constitution
2) A national unity government that will preside until new elections
3) Early presidential elections (unclear as to exactly when)
Parliament immediately convened passing both a blanket amnesty for those detained since the start of the revolution as well as a return to the 2004 constitution.
– After long hours of intense negotiations, a deal which paves the way for a peaceful resolution in Ukraine has been announced. After much confusion whether or not the EuroMaidan supporters would accept the deal, Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski tweeted that the deal was on its way to being signed.
We are about to sign. Good compromise for Ukraine. Gives peace a chance. Opens the way to reform and to Europe. Poland and EU support it.
— Radosław Sikorski (@sikorskiradek) February 21, 2014
– Editor in chief, Adam Reichardt, writes for the Central European Journal of International and Security Studies: “The recent bloodshed is a sign that Ukraine is spinning out of control. It must be a wakeup call to politicians inside and outside Ukraine. As it may be the last chance for stability and peace. Certainly, the last thing that the EU (and Russia for that sake) wants is a Syria in the heart of Europe.” Read the whole editorial here: http://www.cejiss.org/econtribution/ukraine-is-spinning-out-of-control
– President Yanukovych announced measures to end the crisis as part of a negotiated settlement: Early presidential elections, steps to return to the 2004 constitution and an interim unity government. The deal has not been finalised nor yet fully agreed upon by the opposition.
– Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk warns that the Ukraine agreement is still in draft form and not fully agreed upon by all parties, despite earlier announcement by Yanukovych.
– After negotiations which lasted throughout the whole night between the foreign ministers of Poland and Germany and President Yanukovych, a negotiated deal was announced on the Ukrainian Presidential web site. The signing of the agreement will take place at 12:00 noon (11:00 AM CET). More details to follow.
– 70 people are now confirmed killed during Thursday’s violence in Kyiv, by far the bloodiest day since the protests have begun.
– Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has reported that Yanukovych is willing to allow early elections in Ukraine.
– The European Union after its extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council has announced intentions to introduce “targeted sanctions including asset freeze and visa ban against those responsible for human rights violations, violence and use of excessive force”.
– Foreign Ministers of Poland, Germany and France are still in Ukraine meeting with opposition leaders and will meet again with President Yanukovych before the end of the day.
After talks with the Opposition, on the way back to the President to help negotiations. Progress made but important differences remain.
— Radosław Sikorski (@sikorskiradek) February 20, 2014
– Paweł Kowal for New Eastern Europe: “Russia has made its offer to Ukraine without consulting anybody. Now it is time for the West to show the Ukrainians, on paper, its own offer.” Read the op-ed here: https://www.neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1105-a-new-opening-for-the-eu
– At least 21 confirmed dead in today’s clashes with police with reports of snipers firing on protesters.
– Head of Ukrainian PEN Club and former prisoner of conscience of the Brezhnev era, Myroslav Marynovych makes an appeal: What can Ukraine expect from the West now?
– The truce that was announced last night has ended with more clashes between protesters and police. The Kyiv Post is reporting “gunshots are heard everywhere on Independence Square as hundreds of protesters systematically march on police”.
Polish, German and French Foreign Ministers are now meeting with opposition leaders while clashes flare up in Kyiv. Photo via Twitter / French Foreign Minister @LaurentFabius
– United States has imposed visa bans on 20 Ukrainian officials in a response to the violence unfolding in Ukraine.
February 19th 2014
Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced late evening February 19th 2014 that a truce has been reached with President Yanukovych and there will be no police attack on Maidan.
In a reference to the anti-government protesters, Ukraine Special Services announce that they are now carrying out anti-terrorist activities throughout the country.
Jakub Parusinski for New Eastern Europe: “As the death toll continues to climb it seems there is no way to breach the divide between the president and the people he has declared a war upon. Negotiations between the president and the opposition leaders have produced nothing but further threats.” Full text online at: https://neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1101-bridges-burnt-in-ukraine
– Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in an address to Poland’s Parliament has said that he would work with EU leaders to push for personal financial sanctions against Ukraine leadership.
– French President François Hollande has also indicated he supported Tusk’s proposal for quick and effective sanctions.
– St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv converted into makeshift hospital, treating injured from clashes on Maidan.
– Kyiv metro remains closed today
– Roads into the city of Kyiv are controlled by traffic police and most lanes of traffic are blocked by trucks. Airport traffic is at the moment unaffected.
After a long night of clashes between police and anti-government protesters on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the situation remains very unstable.
Some quotes from world leaders on situation in Ukraine:
“What’s happening in Ukraine is unprecedented,” Donald Tusk, Poland’s Prime Minister said.
“I am deeply worried about the grave new escalation in Kiev and the reported victims,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affaris Catherine Ashton said in a statement. “I condemn all use of violence, including against public or party buildings.”
“Things in Ukraine are very bad and can even get worse. The situation is getting out of control and becoming unpredictable” Former Polish President Aleksander Kwaniewski
“We must be clear: Ultimate responsibility for deaths and violence is with President Yanukovych. He has blood on his hands,” Carl Biltd, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sweden.
“Canada calls on all sides to show restraint and to cease all acts of violence immediately,” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said.
– Late in the evening on February 18th 2014, President Vikor Yanukovych met with opposition leaderse Vitaliy Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Results of the meeting are inconclusive.
February 18th 2014
Government officials announced that by 24.00 (midnight) Ukraine time (23.00 Central European Time) traffic will be restricted in and outside of Kyiv, essentially blocking access to the city.
A deadline imposed by the authorities on the opposition to clear out has passed. Militia and special forces now surround Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Independence Square and tensions remain high. Addressing the crowd, opposition leaders have called upon all Kyiv residents to join them in the centre.
Tuesday February 18th saw renewed clashes between protesters and police in Kyiv. The Kyiv Post reports that four people have been killed as a result of the clashes.
Ukraine militia heads towards Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Independence Square in Kyiv – the main staging ground for the anti-government protests.
Ukraine’s parliament fails to register the draft bill on changing the Constitution, Interfax Ukraine reports.
On Tuesday February 18th 2014, Ukraine’s parliament was scheduled to debate and vote on constitutional changes which would bring back most of the 2004 constitution.
Meanwhile, as protesters marched to the parliament building in Kyiv, there were several reports of renewed clashes with police. Tires at the barricade on Hrushevskoho street, which was partially taken down this past weekend, have once again been set ablaze.
Screenshot from live camera outside Hrushevskoho street, where standoff between protesters and police have taken place since January 18th.
Analysis: The Evolution of the Maidan. For more than 80 days, the Ukrainians have been occupying the streets and so far nothing seems to suggest that the situation will stabilise. An unending extension of the sessions of the Verkhovna Rada and a lack of real compromises on the part of the authorities can at any moment lead to new social unrest. Now they fear not only a mass mobilisation but also the use of force.
Exclusive Commentary and Analysis for NEE
A Day in the Life in Kyiv, in the Shadow of the EuroMaidan. Herself a participant of the Maidan protests, Anna Melnyk describes how everyday life goes on in Kyiv and how, on the one hand, the EuroMaidan has spread like a wildfire across Ukraine, but how on the other a significant part of Ukrainian society supports Yanukovych.
The Constitutional Origins of the Crisis. Maryana Prokop, a political scientist specialising in the Ukrainian political system, explains how Ukraine’s Constitution has contributed to the nation’s political crisis.
The EuroMaidan’s Real Battlefront. Analysis by Igor Lyubashenko for New Eastern Europe: The EuroMaidan’s main battlefront is not in Kyiv or any other city in Ukraine. It is in the global information space.
Roots of the Maidan. Sasha G, a Kyiv-based writer and musician, provides his perspective on the Roots of the Maidan.
This is Not a Ukrainian Civil War. Ukrainian journalist and contributor to New Eastern Europe describes what has led to the current situation in the country.
Ukraine Stands up against the Regime. Dana Depo, an adviser to the Anti-Corruption Action Centre in Ukraine, says that it is too late for Viktor Yanukovych
When Choosing between Europe and Russia, Does Yanukovych choose North Korea? In an opinion piece on the situation in Ukraine, Oleksii Polegkyi outlines specific actions that the European Union can take.
To Prevent the Escalation of Violence in Ukraine – A Letter from the Ukrainian PEN Club.
Is the EuroMaidan Doomed? Editor-in-chief of New Eastern Europe Adam Reichardt comments on the recent restrictive laws passed by Ukraine’s parliament which have led to the recent clashes with police in Kyiv.
Are the Oligarchs with the Nation? Paweł Pieniążek looks at the role the oligarchs are playing in the EuroMaidan protests in Ukraine.
The Deficit of Effective Communication Maksym Khylko discusses the reasons for the frustration among the protesters in Ukraine.