#AceNewsServices says `Ukraine’ the Ukrainian capital has been gripped by weeks of anti-government protests which have seen violent clashes between rioters and police. Unrest is also spreading beyond Kiev as the opposition and government struggle to end the crisis.
Kiev, January 27, 2014.(AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky )
Tuesday, January 28
Nine out of 12 anti-protest laws passed January 16 were cancelled during a special session of the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovnaya Rada.
The repeal of the laws was one of the opposition’s main demands.
It was one of the main demands of the opposition.
Three former Ukrainian presidents are participating in a session of the country’s parliament aimed at ending the unrest in the country.
Ukraine’s Justice Minister Elena Lukash has said a state of emergency is not on the agenda.
Participants of the mass protests in Ukraine could be exempt from prosecution, if a bill, which has been registered in the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is passed.
“The draft bill has been authored to prevent negative consequences for and prosecution of participants of mass protests, which have taken place between December 2013 and January 2014,” the bill’s author, Leonid Emets, an MP from the opposition Fartherland (Batkivshchina) party, told Itar-Tass. “If the bill’s passed, that would alleviate tension in the community,” he added.
Ukraine’s parliament is set to debate the laws on amnesty and the cancellation of the January 16 law. It is considered that the new law may enter in force after all buildings seized by the opposition are freed.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is planning to carry out negotiations with Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition leaders, according to Ashton’s press secretary, as quoted by Itar-Tass.
Members of the opposition and of the ruling party have spoken out over the submission of the resignation of Ukraine’s premier, Nikolay Azarov.
In particular, the leader of the ‘Udar’ (Strike) party, Vitaly Klitschko, believes that the move was an attempt to “save face.”
An MP from the ruling Party of Regions, Anna German, thinks “it is a responsible move from an experienced politician who could put his own ambitions lower than the interests of the state, the interests of the mutual understanding between the authorities and the community.”
A few thousand supporters of the ruling Party of Regions have rallied near the Ukrainian Parliament, demanding a stop to attempts at a coup d’etat.
The Ukrainian PM’s application for resignation does not necessarily mean he will quit his post, Vladimir Oleynik, an MP from the ruling Party of Regions, told Interfax-Ukraine. “It is essential that the president accepts such a resignation,” Oleynik stressed.
The leader of opposition party ‘Batkivshchina’ (Homeland), Arseny Yatsenyuk, has said that he does not intend to take over the post of Ukrainian premier, as quoted by Itar-Tass.
PM Nikolay Azarov has said in his statement that the conflict situation in the state threatens the economic and social development of Ukraine, as well as all of Ukrainian society and every citizen.
“With the aim of creating additional options for social and political compromise, for the peaceful solution to the conflict, I’ve made my personal decision to ask the president of Ukraine to accept my resignation from the post of Ukrainian prime minister,” Azarov said.
Mykola Azarov.(Reuters / Denis Balibouse)
He also stressed that “during the stand-off the government has done everything for peaceful solution of the conflict.”
“We’ve been doing everything not to let bloodshed happen, not to have violence escalated, not to have human rights infringed upon. The government has made sure the economy and the social security functioned in extreme conditions,” the premier said, as quoted by Interfax-Ukraine.
— Павел Шеремет (@pavelsheremet) January 28, 2014
The opposition leaders expect significant results from Tuesday’s session.
“I believe that Ukrainians now see a light at the end of the tunnel. The line has been crossed: the Ukrainian people managed to organize in such a way that would take others decades. And I see progress in this exact way: the shaping of patriotism and self-organization,” Oleg Tyagnibok told Itar-Tass.
Nikolay Azarov has applied for resignation from the post of Ukraine’s Prime Minister, according to the Cabinet of Ministers’ website.
Monday, January 27
Three policemen have been stabbed by “radical protesters” in the southern Ukrainian city of Herson, authorities report. Two of the wounded are in serious condition. The assailants, all university students, have been detained.
The Ukraine government and opposition agreed to cancel anti-riot laws adopted by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament) on January 16 which created toughening responsibility for violations during mass unrest, Minister of Justice Elena Lukash said.
“The political decision was made to cancel those laws adopted on January 16, which caused numerous debates,” the announcement read.
Lukash also noted that those laws which didn’t cause mass outcry will be further discussed during an emergency meeting of the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday, saying that the legislature will be in line with the “European level.”
Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich (2nd L) meets with opposition leaders (R, front-back) Oleh Tyahnybok, Vitaly Klitschko and Arseny Yatsenyuk in Kiev January 27, 2014.(Reuters / Andrei Mosienko)
Batkivshina party leader Arseny Yatsenyuk has rejected President Yanukovich’s proposal to head the government, Ukrainian Justice Minister Elena Lukash said.
“Arseny Yatsenyuk didn’t give a consent to head the government. Negotiations will be continued,” the presidential press service reported.
Yanukovich earlier offered the Batkivshina party leader the opportunity to head the government, promising to dismiss PM Nikolai Azarov and his cabinet from office.
The EU is concerned about the possibility of imposing a state of emergency in Ukraine to quell the brutal protesters.
“I am alarmed by reports that the government is planning to declare a state of emergency,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
She stated that such a move by Ukrainian authorities would create “a further downward spiral” that would “benefit no one.”
Ashton urged opposition leaders to “dissociate themselves from those who resort to violence,” adding that she would travel to Kiev for talks on Tuesday evening.
“The only solution to the crisis is a political one. What is urgently needed is a genuine dialogue to build a new consensus on the way forward,” Ashton said, urging authorities to revoke the anti-riot laws.
The self-proclaimed People’s Rada (council) of Kiev has been formed from the opposition’s self-government committee, the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party reported on its website.
The improvised council, formed from members of opposition parties and “civil society representatives,” is determined to function until “legitimate” senior Kiev administration officials are elected.
Kiev, January 27, 2014.(Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)
The announcement comes as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich meets with leaders of the three opposition parties – UDAR, Batkivshchyna, and Svoboda – as part of a task group on settling the political crisis in the country.
The meeting is taking place at the presidential administration building in Kiev, the presidential press service told ITAR-TASS.
As riots and storming of government buildings continue in western Ukraine, residents in the east of the country fear the violence could spread to their relatively calm regions too, RT’s Paula Slier reports from Donetsk.
Slier interviewed Aleksandra Green, a Jewish mother of two, who is taking the openly racist slogans of one of the opposition leaders, Oleg Tyagnibok, very seriously.
“In the children’s school now, there is a security guard. Children now take pepper sprays to school to be safe…I’m afraid for my family,” Green told RT.
“These people, protesters, have already tasted the blood and maybe they will become more violent,” she said.
Watch the full report by RT’s Slier:
Diplomats from 14 world countries with embassies in Kiev have inspected the equipment of Berkut special forces, according to a statement published on the website of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.
According to the statement, the diplomats observed tear gas canisters, stun grenades, “Fort-500” non-lethal guns, and ammunition belonging to the special forces.
“The police officers have no firearms,” the statement stressed.
Earlier on Monday, Vitaly Lukyanenko, the spokesman for Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov, refuted media reports which stated that the government is looking to expand Berkut and the Griffon special forces unit by six times, to a 30,000-strong corps.
“There is no such decision and I very highly doubt it could ever be taken,”Lukyanenko said, as quoted by ITAR-TASS.
The UN is ready to send its special envoy to Ukraine to help continue a dialogue between the government and the opposition, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, told Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich in a phone conversation Monday, according to Yanukovich’s press service.
The UN Chief has “called on all sides to show maximum restraint and to seek ways of resolving the crisis through dialogue,” the press service said in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he regrets that“outrageous violent actions of fascist-type fellows” rioting in Ukraine have received “no evaluation in principle” by EU bodies, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Lavrov discussed the situation in Ukraine with Swiss President and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Didier Burkhalter, in a phone conversation on Monday.
When asked by Burkhalter on Russia’s view of the situation in Ukraine, the minister stressed that Russia is urging a political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis with no foreign intervention.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko has discussed the political situation in the country on the phone with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, according to the Interior Ministry press-service.
Pyatt stressed that the current government negotiations with the opposition are significant, adding that both sides should stay calm.
In turn, the minister gave assurances that the police will refrain from using force. However, he added that the protesters aren’t meeting this with any concomitant understanding. The situation is complex because there are no negotiators from the opposition he said adding that there are also extremists among the opposition.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concerned with the escalation of tension and the ongoing violence in Ukraine, ICRC’s Moscow department head, Pascal Cuttat told Itar-Tass.
An ICRC delegation has met with both Ukrainian Foreign Ministry officials and opposition activists, urging the sides to respect the work of the Red Cross volunteers. According to Cuttat, the volunteers have helped about 300 people injured in Ukraine over the last week alone.
Medical volunteers carry a wounded journalist at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev January 20, 2014. (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has confirmed to Interfax that opposition activists are no longer occupying the building of the Ministry of Justice.
Investigators have worked in the building after the protesters, including those of the Spilna Sprava (“common cause”) movement, have left it, the Interior Ministry’s press service said.
The ministry addressed all the protesters occupying other government institutions “to follow the movement’s example and to voluntarily free the occupied buildings.”
The Ministry of Justice was freed following threats by Ukrainian Justice Minister, Elena Lukash, who said she will demand a state of emergency to be imposed. Opposition party leaders negotiated the move with Spilna Sprava, while the National Resistance HQ said they have nothing to do with the ministry’s seizure.
Despite leaving the ministry, Spilna Sprava leader, Aleksandr Danilyuk, has continued to call for blocking of other administrative buildings across Ukraine on his Facebook page.
Watch RT’s Peter Oliver reporting from Kiev:
The Ukrainian government has drafted a bill facilitating restriction of internet sites, the press service of Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers told Itar-Tass.
The draft bill allows any individual or organization to file a request for blocking a webpage to a special body, the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications).
The commission’s experts then decide on whether to block the website in 7 days’ time. A site may be unblocked by the authorities recalling their decision or by site owners appealing it in court.
The bill follows the controversial January 16 legislation, which, according to the opposition, has prepared the grounds for internet censorship in Ukraine.
Opposition supporters blocking entrance to justice ministry. They tell me the are guarding it from “provocateurs” pic.twitter.com/c615etSc4O
— Peter Oliver (@PeterGOliver_RT) January 27, 2014
The Ukrainian opposition is ready to continue talks with the government to settle the political crisis in the country, a statement from the opposition’s National Resistance Headquarters said on Monday.
“Despite the authorities’ policy towards wrecking the talks and imposing a state of emergency, the opposition is ready to continue talking in order to prevent further escalation and bloodshed,” the statement said.
It accused the authorities of attempting to undermine the talks by blaming the opposition for occupying the Ukrainian Justice Ministry building. There are no protesters currently occupying the building, the statement stressed.
The opposition also leveled accusations of using “armed gangs,” commonly referred to as “titushki” against peaceful protesters, claiming that “hundreds”have been injured by the thugs. It also claimed there are unceasing“kidnappings, mass arrests, raids, taking [protesters] hostage and persecution of journalists.”
The opposition’s Spilna Sprava (“common cause”) group is no longer occupying the Ukrainian Justice Ministry building, the group’s leader, Aleksandr Danilyuk, says in his Facebook posts.
According to Danilyuk, some activists from Independence Square (Maidan) are now actually guarding the ministry’s entrance from attempts to re-take it. The situation has apparently resulted in a row between the right-wing group and the opposition leaders rallying on Maidan, with Danilyuk calling the opposition’s “National Resistance HQ” a “bunch of provocateurs.”
Hearing opposition occupying justice ministry may be leaving. Going to have a look to confirm.
— Peter Oliver (@PeterGOliver_RT) January 27, 2014
The Ukrainian opposition claims to have seized another administrative building – the regional council – in the northern city of Chernigov, announcing they plan to base the headquarters of the new “People’s Rada” (“parliament”) there. Such alternative local councils have already been proposed in several other Ukrainian cities, with Sumy city protesters proclaiming one on Sunday.
There were no reports of clashes or resistance. Opposition MPs have asked their supporters not to build any barricades and to “behave nicely,” according to Ukrainska Pravda daily.
— Oleksii Frantsuz (@ofrantsuz) January 27, 2014
— Andy Alex (@andyalexs) January 27, 2014
The move comes after a crowd of rioters stormed the city administration building on Saturday, which they have since been occupying.
An extraordinary session of the council has been called and agreed upon with local Party of Regions’ MPs, but it was not immediately clear when it will take place.
Ukraine’s ex-President Leonid Kravchuk has called on the Ukrainian Government and the opposition to gather for round table talks, Itar-Tass reports, citing Kravchuk’s aide.
Civil society and representatives of the clergy have also been invited to the talks, aimed at finding a solution to the political crisis in Ukraine, the aide said. It was not immediately clear, who will represent the government at the talks.
The Ukrainian opposition claims they have nothing to do with the protesters who seized the building of the country’s Ministry of Justice, Interfax Ukraine reported, quoting an opposition MP, Stepan Kubiv, who added that the opposition is in general against the taking of buildings, especially those which are important and significant to the state.
US dept warned citizens in #Ukraine to stay away from crowds & protests, western ambassadors visited the center of protests earlier today
— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) January 27, 2014
The Ukrainian Minister of Energy, Eduard Stavitsky, has declared that the situation at the country’s nuclear power stations is under control. It follows numerous anonymous bomb threat calls to hydroelectric and nuclear power stations.
Protesters also tried to seize the country’s Ministry of Energy on Saturday, which triggered the initiation of a special security mode at Ukraine’s power stations.
It comes against the backdrop of the IAEA coming to Ukraine for an unscheduled check. Ukraine’s leadership has stated they work with both the nuclear watchdog and Russia in the field of nuclear energy, which is linked to the events that are going on in the country.
A rally supporting the Ukrainian president is taking place in the city of Dnepropetrovsk, Itar-Tass reported, quoting the city administration. The rally is set to last for an unlimited period of time, and the city administration will provide the demonstrators with heating and warm tea (the temperature there is currently -11 degrees Celsius).
The Ukrainian authorities should re-establish credibility, and sides should refrain from using force, Poland’s Foreign Ministry declared. It follows a phone conversation between the Ukrainian and Polish Foreign Ministers.“Minister Kozhara has expressed his concern over the fact that the attitudes of opposition activists are becoming more radical, which is illustrated by the occupation of new government buildings in the regions, as well as the Ministry Justice in Kiev,” Poland’s Foreign Ministry stated, as quoted by Itar-Tass.
Justice ministry still occupied in #Kiev despite opposition leaders asking them to leave. Some opposition arguing with each other outside.
— Peter Oliver (@PeterGOliver_RT) January 27, 2014
People are being evacuated from the train station in the city of Lvov after a report that an explosive device was inside the building, Itar-Tass reported.
A Kiev court has ordered the “UDAR” party leader, Vitaly Klitschko, to disclose whether he has a US or German residence permit.
Vitaly Klitschko speaking in central Kiev, January 25, 2014.(AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)
An unknown man has hanged himself from the metal carcass of the New Year tree on Kiev’s Square of Independence, the UNIAN news agency reported, quoting the country’s Interior Ministry. An investigation into the incident has been launched.
There are currently around 2,000 people gathered on Kiev’s Square of Independence. The temperature is -14 degrees Celsius, so people are warming themselves up next to braziers.
Kiev’s prosecutor’s office has closed 35 criminal cases connected with the protests in November and December 2013, the body’s press office head told Itar-Tass.
Kiev, January 26, 2014.(AFP Photo / Vasily Maximov)
Members of the Ukrainian rebel army have claimed responsibility for the killing of a policeman in Kiev on Friday.
Moscow has expressed concern over the rise in nationalist attitudes in Ukraine, “including anti-Semitic calls of some Maidan activists which the European bodies choose to hush up for reasons undefined,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated, as quoted by RIA Novosti.
In the western Ukrainian town of Kolomyeh, anti-government protesters attacked the office of the Party of Regions and burnt the party’s symbols. About a thousand people gathered on the town’s main square
Fifteen activists have been detained over the assault on the regional administration in the city of Dnepropetrovsk, located in central Ukraine, some 450km from the capital, Kiev.
Ukrainian police have launched a criminal case over the seizure of Ministry of Justice. It comes after earlier reports that Minister of Justice Elena Lukash threatened to demand the Council for National Security and Defense declare a state of emergency unless the building is freed.
Ukraine’s Security Service says in a statement on its website that the cases of bomb threats in hydroelectric and nuclear power stations have become more frequent recently.
One Polish journalist was injured and another detained during the crackdown on anti-government protests in the town of Cherkassy, situated about 200km from Kiev. Both the journalists are citizens of Belarus. The Union of Polish Journalists expressed concern over the possibility that the two could be deported to their home country after the incident.
— PaulaSlier_RT (@PaulaSlier_RT) January 27, 2014
Ukrainian Justice Minister Elena Lukash has said she will ask the National Security and Defense Council to introduce a state of emergency if rioters do not leave the ministry building.
“If the protesters do not leave the Justice Ministry building in half an hour I will ask the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to impose the state of emergency,” she told Inter TV channel.
Occupied building of the Ukrainian Justice Ministry in Kiev on early January 27, 2014. (AFP Photo/Sergei Gapon)
Sunday, January 26
Local media reported that no one was hurt during the seizure of the building of the Justice Ministry in central Kiev. Following the incident, political organization Obchee Delo claimed responsibility, posting a message on their Facebook profile.
The building of Justice Ministry occupied by protesters:
— ЄВРОМАЙДАН (@euromaidan) January 26, 2014
Rioters in Ukraine have seized one of the Justice Ministry’s buildings in central Kiev near Independence Square, police reported. “At 22:38 security in the building called in an attempted seizure of the building. Information was confirmed, the building remains seized,” Unian news agency quoted the police as saying.
Opposition leaders in Ukraine have no idea how to end the crisis, a member of parliament with the ruling Party of Regions, Vadim Kolesnichenko, told ITAR-TASS. “Regrettably, last night in Kiev demonstrated that the opposition leaders are unable to fulfill the obligations they have undertaken,” he said.
“Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s [leader of the opposition Batkivshchina party] statement that he is ready to head the Ukrainian government to continue the European integration course looks treacherous after the turmoil the protesters staged at the Ukrainian House in European Square. It looks like the opposition leaders have neither any idea nor solutions how to get out of the current situation,”Kolesnichenko added.
On Sunday, several foreign diplomats – including European, US, and Canadian ambassadors – “inspected” Kiev’s Maidan and spoke to representatives of the radical “Right Sector” group, the press service of the opposition Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party said in a statement.
The diplomats are “convinced” that the protests in central Kiev are “not dangerous” and that protesters do not have “stockpiles of arms,” the report says. They also allegedly agreed that “beasts” and “armed gangs” were responsible for the violence, while protesters “are defending their rights and dignity.”
Officials arrived around the time of a memorial service for a deceased Maidan activist, due to which a Sunday rally was cancelled in central Kiev and violent riots ceased. It is not clear whether the diplomats planned their arrival time accordingly.
Russia’s embassy in Ukraine has refuted rumors claiming that Russian special forces have been dispatched to Kiev to deal with the protesters.
“In connection with allegations circulated by some Ukrainian mass media about the arrival of Russian special forces to Kiev, the press service of the Russian embassy stresses that such reports have nothing to do with the reality and are provocative by nature,” the embassy said in a statement.
The Russian diplomatic mission has also called on mass media to be careful not to fall into the trap of reporting false information intentionally provided by some individuals.
At least 311 police officers have been injured in the Kiev riots, 118 of whom have been hospitalized with head injuries, fractures, burns, and stab and slash wounds. Some have also been poisoned by “unknown substances,”the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said in a Sunday statement.
The ministry’s press service also informed UNIAN news agency that 116 people have been detained in connection with the mass riots in central Kiev and that a criminal investigation into “mass disorder” on Grushevskogo Street has been opened.
Several people who were previously convicted, including those who have been charged with especially grave crimes, are among the detained.
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