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Crisis in Kyiv: Archival coverage

NEE is archiving its coverage of the EuroMaidan protests, the government response and the political situation in Ukraine more generally at this address. However, we are also providing the most recent coverage, including all exclusive commentary and analysis, here: https://neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1050-crisis-in-kyiv-continuing-coverage-of-euromaidan-protests-in-ukraine

February 3, 2014 - New Eastern Europe - Articles and Commentary

03.02.2014 ukraine2

Photo: Wojciech Koźmic

January 30 2014

After a late night debate in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament voted and passed an amnesty bill for protesters late Wednesday evening. The bill stipulated that amnesty will only be offered if the governmental buildings currently occupied by protesters will be vacated. The bill gives 15 days for this action.

However, the opposition parties were against the bills as their demand was amnesty without any conditions. Opposition leader of the Svoboda party, Oleh Tyahnibok said later on the stage at Maidan (Independence Square) that the opposition does not recognize this amnesty law.

There were earlier indications that the parliament would pass a blanket amnesty with the support of a significant number of members from the ruling Party of Regions. However after a visit to the parliament by President Yanukovych, the second law (with the condition) was instead voted on and passed.

There are no indications that the opposition will be willing to vacate the buildings within the 15 days in the law, hence the standoff continues.

January 29 2014

Exclusive Analysis: The Constitutional Origins of the Crisis Read online:
https://neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1072-the-constitutional-origins-of-the-crisis

16:00 A compromise has been reached on a bill that would allow amnesty for protesters as well as provides the framework to create a constitutional commission, with the aim of amending the constitution of Ukraine. 

Ukraine’s Parliament will meet once again to discuss the amnesty bill. The ruling Party of Regions has said that negotiations on conditions must be continued, while Svoboda leader, Oleh Tiahnybok, has said that the “bill [must] be adopted without any conditions.”

US President Barack Obama during his annual state of the union address mentioned Ukraine during the speech.  “In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country’s future,” President Obama said.

January 28 2014 

15:55 Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, has accepted the resignation of Mykola Azarov. Meanwhile, the parliament was unable to agree on language regarding the amnesty law and will convene again tomorrow (January 29th) to continue debate and possible passage.  

11:39 During the special session of Parliament – members repealed the January 16th laws, with 361 votes in favour. 

10:45 NEE contributor Igor Lyubashenko describes what he believes is Ukraine’s main battlefront: the information war focused on events in Ukraine, both within the country and beyond its borders. Read the analysis at: https://neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1067-the-euromaidan-s-real-battlefront

9:30 It was announced today that Ukraine’s prime minister, Mykola Azarov, has resigned his post ahead of today’s emergency meeting of parliament. According to the press release of the Cabinet of Ministers, Azarav said the reason behind is resignation was “to create additional opportunities for socio-political compromise, for the sake of the peaceful settlement of the conflict.”

What to expect in today’s special session of Parliament?

According Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, a member of the opposition party Batkivshchyna (Fatherland), four demands must be met during the special session of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) on January 28.

These demands will be:

1) Resignation of the Mykola Azarov’s government

2) Abolition of the restrictive laws passed on January 16th 2014

3) Law on amnesty for all those detained during the EuroMaidan protests

4) Begin work on amending Ukraine’s constitution to return back to the 2004 constitution.

Updates from January 27 

22:45 Reports from Kyiv state that a partial agreement has been reached between opposition leaders and President Yanukovych. During this evening’s meeting, Arseniy Yatsenyuk official declined the offer of prime minister. The leaders also came to an agreement with authorities on backing down from the draconian laws passed last week, as well as an offer of amnesty to protesters detained from the streets under the condition that governmental buildings occupied by protesters are vacated as well as barricades dismantled. 

21:30 A relative level of calm remains in Kyiv as anti-government protesters maintain a truce. Late afternoon it was announced that President Yanukovych would meet again with the three opposition leaders before tomorrow’s emergency session of parliament.

14:00 Sasha G., a Kyiv-based writer and musician, analyzes the roots of the Maidan exclusively for New Eastern Europe, writing that in order to “understand the events in Kyiv today is not possible without knowing two major sources of the conflict: the core of the Ukrainian mentality and the history of how Yanukovych came to power.”

11:30 Ukrainska Pravda (Українськаправда) reports that the government has informed foreign diplomats in Kyiv about the possible imposition of a “state of emergency”.  The report was denied by a spokesperson for the Ukrainian foreign ministry.

Meanwhile, as anti-government protesters remain in control of the building of the Ministry of Justice, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Leonid Kozhara, informed foreign ministers of Germany, Sweden and Poland that the justice ministry’s occupation could complicate the situation in the country.

8:30 Activists and anti-government protesters have taken control of the building of the Ministry of Justice in Kyiv on Sunday.  In response, the Minister of Justice, Olena Lukash, has warned that if the protesters do not leave the building, she will request a state of emergency order from the president.

Anti-government protesters now control buildings in 10 cities throughout the country. The protesters claim to have control over nine regions throughout the country. The map below (via Ukrainska Pravda’s Twitter profile) illustrates the regions that the protesters claim to have control over.  Only two areas, Donetsk and Crimea, remain in full control of the ruling Party of Regions.

January 26th 2014

20:45 In a commentary for New Eastern Europe, Anna Kotaleichuk, a Ukrainian journalist and NEE contributor, describes the current situation in the country, oultining the reasons for the current standoff and what may come next. Kotaleichuk concludes that this is not a Ukrainian Civil War, but rather the government attacking Ukrainian citizens.

17:00 Thousands of people attend funeral services for  Mikhail Zhiznevsky in Kyiv. Zhiznevsky was shot dead during clashes between protesters and police last week in Kyiv.

8:40 Last night and early this morning Euromaidan protesters stormed the “Ukrainian House” located at European Square not far from the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square).  Reports indicate that between 100 and 200 riot police (internal troops) were housed in the building at the time of siege. 

After six hours of clashes between protesters and police, the siege ended at Ukrainian House with a negotiation (reportedly by Vitaliy Klitschko) of allowing the police to leave the building. Protesters now control a larger portion of Central Kyiv stretching from Maidan to Hrushevskoho Street.

It is currently -17 Celsius in the city of Kyiv.

January 25 2014 

21:45 While addressing the crowd at the Maiden (Independent Square) opposition leaders Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Vitaliy Klitschko announced that they will not accept the offer by Viktor Yanukovych.

18:50 Reports on the latest information from meeting between Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders state that Yanukovych has offered post of prime minister to Arseniy Yatsenyuk and a post of Deputy Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs to Vitaliy Klitschko. In addition, Yanukovych has suggested that Ukraine reinstate the Constitution from 2004.

14:00 In a commentary for New Eastern Europe, Dana Depo, an adviser to the Anti-Corruption Action Centre in Ukraine, says that it is too late for Viktor Yanukovych and the victory for the opposition is now only a matter of time.

Read the commentary at: 

https://www.neweasterneurope.eu/articles-and-commentary/1063-ukraine-stands-up-against-the-regime

11:30 As the protest movement continues to spread beyond the capital, reports from Ukraine now state that government buildings are now occupied in at least 10 different cities including Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Lutsk. 

This morning Interior Ministry has also claimed that one police officer was killed by opposition forces and at least two policemen are being held hostage. The national resistance headquarters denies the allegations. At the same time, Ukraine’s interior minister, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, has stated that the opposition leaders no longer control the situation noting concern about the stockpiling of firearms. Zakharcenko hinted at the use of force if no solution is found soon. “The recent events in Ukraine showed that our attempts to settle the conflict by not using force have been in vain,” he is quoted saying by Interfax Ukraine.

8:30 The standoff between police and demonstrators on Hrushevskoho Street continued as the sun rose in Kyiv early Saturday morning. Sporadic clashes between demonstrators and police throughout the evening but generally the atmosphere is calm as a delicate truce has been enacted since Thursday.

Weather in Kyiv at 7:00 Saturday morning was -20 Celsius.

President Viktor Yanukovych has promised to make changes to the government during the special session of parliament this coming week “We will make a decision at this session. The president will sign a decree and we will re-format the government so as to find an optimal version of the government’s professional lineup that would work for Ukrainian society,” Yanukovych said.

In Lviv, thousands of people attended the funeral of Yuriy Verbytskiy – an activist who was found dead in the woods outside the city this past week. Among those in attendance was the Mayor of the city of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyy. “Today this hero of Ukraine was accompanied on his last path by tears from women and tears from men. He loved life and was against violence. He was murdered because he did not want to be a slave,” Sadovyy said during the funeral.

January 24 2014

em612Two women walk the street near the barricades on Hrushevskoho street on January 24 2014. Photo: Wojciech Koźmic  

14:45 Ukrainian Writer Yuri Andrukhovych, in an open letter, states that full-scale crimes against humanity are now being committed in Ukraine. He admits that it is too difficult to say what will happen next and asks that people pay attention to the events in Ukraine.

13:45 Andriy Klyuyev has been appointed head of the presidential administration.  Klyuyev most recently held the post of head of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine.  In 2009, Klyuyev was listsed in Korrespondent’s Top 50 richest Ukrainians. Klyuyev replaces Serhiy Lovochkin who submitted his resignation in December 2013.

13:00 Reports from Kyiv state that protesters now occupy the Ministry of Agricultural building in the centre of the city. 

11:00 Protesters outside Kyiv have attempted (and in some cases successfully) to take over regionas administration buildings as protests spread outside the capital. Late last evening crowds on the Euromaidan expressed disappointment with the opposition leaders who reported from their meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych. The crowd voted to continue the protest, hold the truce and spread the territory of occupation of the Euromaidan. The map below (posted on Twitter) currently illustrates which regions are under the protesters’ control (red = occupied; pink = access blocked).

06:00 United States Vice President Joe Biden held a phone call with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. According to the press release, Biden urged “an immediate de-escalation in the standoff between protesters and security forces in downtown Kyiv.” 

January 23 2014

22:40 Opposition leaders express optimism that bloodshed can end but caution that it will require time. The standoff continues on Hrushevskoho Street and the tension remains high. 

20:40  Still no reports on the outcome of the meeting between opposition leaders and Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych. The primary demands of the opposition included the resignation of the government and a call for new elections. The truce remains between the protesters and the police, but the tension is still high.

15.00 Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, has asked that the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Volodymyr Rybak, convene a special session of parliament to address the situation in Ukraine. “The situation requires immediate settlement,” Yanukovych said.  Rybak has indicated that the session could take place as early as next week.

12:15 Temporary truce is in effect. At around 12:00 PM local time (11:00 AM CET), Vitaliy Klitschko, leader of the UDAR opposition party, called on protesters and police to observe a period of peace while negotiations continue. “By eight o’clock I’ll return to you and report on the negotiations,” Klitschko told the protesters at Hrushevskoho street.

08:45 Standoff in Kyiv continues on Hrushevskoho Street after a tense night. Below is a screenshot from EspresoTV which is being streamed here.

Updates from January 22nd 2014

22:50 Ukrainian PEN club publishes letter calling for a stop to the escalation of violence.  

22:15 Kyiv Post reports that a total of five people have been killed in clashes today with Police. While at least 300 people have been reported injured. Clashes continue on Hrushevskoho Street and estimates of tens of thousands of demonstrators remain on Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

21:30 Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyy has proclaimed that he will not enforce the new “dictatorial” laws which he proclaimed “against the Constitution”. The remarks were made at a rally held in Lviv this evening. 

18:50 After meeting with President Viktor Yunokovych, opposition leaders, Vitaliy Klitschko, Oleh Tyahnybok and Arseniy Yatsenyuk address the crowd of thousands gathered at the Maidan Square in Kyiv. The leaders expressed disappointment of their meeting and called for new elections. “The meeting with Yanukovych brought absolutely nothing,” Tyanhybok said to the crowd.

Klitschko called for the crowd to defend Maidan throughout the night and demanded that Yanukovych accept the call for new elections. 

17:45 Ukrainian press reports that the Cabinet has authorised extended measures of force on demonstrators. The order is intended “to protect public order” and allows law enforcement agencies to use water cannons (despite the cold) as well as other types of gas grenades.

14:45 There are reports that state employees and businesses in central Kyiv have been asked to leave work by

16:00 local time (15:00) Continental European Time. In the meantime, the standoff between demonstrators and police continues. A recent photo from Twitter:

13:20 Statement of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso:“We are shocked to hear the latest news from Ukraine about deaths of protesters, and express our deepest condolences to their families. We deplore in strongest possible terms the use of force and violence, and call on all sides to immediately refrain from it, and start taking steps that would help de-escalate the situation.”

12.45 Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has invited the three leaders of the political opposition to an emergency meeting with the aim to put an end to the confrontation. “It is not too late to resolve this conflict peacefully” Yanukovych is quoted as saying. 

12:00 Police and protesters clashed on the streets of Kyiv. Scenes of police taking away demonstrators are now playing out over the internet and blasts and gunshots can be heard throughout the city. Screenshot via Twitter

11:28 Statement by US Embassy in Kyiv: US revokes visas for Ukrainians linked to violence in Kyiv: “In response to actions taken against protestors on the Maidan in November and December of last year, the U.S. Embassy has revoked the visas of several Ukrainians who were linked to the violence.”

10:48 Two people are confirmed dead as a result of gunshot wounds. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has denied the use of firearms on protesters.

09:45 Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has labelled protesters on streets clashing with police as “terrorists” and that all “criminal actions” will be punished.

Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, during a short meeting with journalists has said:

“Another barrier has been crossed. A man was killed and blood was spilled. We ask both sides for moderation, but the ultimate cause of what is happening today is the abandonment of a pro-European course and reforms and the adoption of repressive laws,” Sikorski told journalists in Poland’s Parliament on Wednesday, commenting the recent events in Ukraine.

“The course towards Europe and reforms are the way to prosperity and to strenghthen independence. Kleptocracy and repressions can lead the leaders to regions where they would not like to find themselves and to incapacitation. We advised the Ukrainian authorities, but now they are listening to advice from outside the European Union.”

Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton: “I strongly condemn the violent escalation of events in Kyiv overnight leading to casualties. The reported deaths of several protesters is a source of extreme worry and my sympathy goes to all those affected. I call on everyone involved to ensure restraint. The use of force and resort to violence is not an answer to the political crisis. All acts of violence must come to an immediate end and be  swiftly investigated. Those responsible will have to be held to account.

Ukrainian citizens’ rights of assembly, freedom of expression and media must be fully respected and protected. I am deeply concerned about attacks on journalists and about reports of missing persons. I call on the government and the opposition to engage in a genuine dialogue at the highest level. The solution needs to meet the aspirations of the Ukrainian people.”

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