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- January 31, 2014 at 11:09 am #346239
KIEV, Ukraine — A former Ukrainian president warned on Wednesday that the country is now on “the brink of civil war,” and Russia added to the gloom by announcing the suspension of its financial aid package, which was all that had been keeping Ukraine solvent.
Leonid M. Kravchuk, Ukraine’s president from 1991 to 1994, issued his warning while offering his services to Parliament in mediating negotiations between the government and opposition leaders on overhauling the Constitution to weaken the power of President Viktor F. Yanukovych.
But Parliament halted work for the evening without voting on the constitutional change or another measure to assuage tension.
Vladimir V. Putin at a news conference Tuesday with European Union officials in Brussels. Ukraine has been a source of tension.
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Prime Minister Mykola Azarov at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum on Jan. 23.
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A protester waved the Ukrainian flag in Kiev on Tuesday. The country's political upheaval could quickly turn into an economic crisis.
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President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had told European Union leaders at a summit meeting Tuesday in Brussels that his government intended to fulfill its financial aid commitments to Ukraine in spite of negotiations here that could put a pro-Western government in power. Mr. Putin said the $15 billion aid package was for the Ukrainian “people.”
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Leonid M. Kravchuk, a former president of Ukraine, spoke to Parliament in Kiev on Wednesday, warning of a possible “civil war.” Sergei Chuzavkov/Associated Press
But that stance was reversed at a cabinet meeting in Moscow on Wednesday, where Mr. Putin brought up the subject of the aid, saying, “I ask the government to carry out these agreements in full.”
But his prime minister, Dmitri A. Medvedev, suggested that it would be reasonable to fulfill the agreements “only when we know what economic policies the new government will implement, who will be working there, and what rules they will follow.”
Mr. Putin quickly agreed, saying, “That’s reasonable.” A report by the Itar-Tass news agency said this indicated a decision to halt the aid, meaning Ukraine would not receive a $2 billion payment expected by Friday.
Political commentators said there were other signs that Russia was raising the economic pressure on Ukraine, seemingly to discourage Mr. Yanukovych from compromising with the opposition.
Echoing statements made in 2006 and 2009 before shipments of natural gas to Ukraine were stopped, a deputy director of Gazprom, the state-owned natural gas export monopoly, said Ukraine had failed to make payments on a $2.7 billion debt.
Russian customs officials began heightened checks on trucks crossing the border from Ukraine, and an association of Ukrainian truckers told members to expect delays of 10 to 15 working days.
Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency, on Tuesday downgraded Ukraine’s sovereign debt, citing political uncertainty and the prospect that the protests would succeed in installing a pro-Western government, resulting in a probable cancellation of the Russian financing that was suspended Wednesday.
Without Russian aid or a Western substitute, Ukraine will be forced to default on its debt or devalue its currency, the hryvnia.
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Activists left the Agriculture Ministry in Kiev on Wednesday. Maxim Shipenkov/European Pressphoto Agency
After five people were wounded on Wednesday in fighting between two factions of antigovernment protesters inside one of the city’s occupied government buildings, protest organizers announced the formation of an umbrella command for street bands, to be called a National Guard.
The scuffle came as the opposition’s more moderate political leadership faced pressure to demonstrate greater control on the streets, in exchange for concessions from the government. Parliament on Wednesday passed an amnesty bill covering protesters arrested in clashes with the police that will take effect only after protesters leave occupied administrative buildings.
Members of the nationalist party Svoboda fought to eject activists from a group called Common Cause from the main building of the Agriculture Ministry, then both factions left the building, allowing the police to again guard the upper floors. The move appeared to represent a concession from the opposition, after Ukraine’s prime minister, Mykola Azarov, resigned on Tuesday.
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The fighting among protesters inside, though, had been intense. It involved so-called traumatic guns, or nonlethal pistols firing rubber bullets. Afterward, the stairs were slicked with water from the building’s firefighting system, apparently also used in the melee, and broken glass and furniture littered the halls.
Protesters for weeks had suspected that the government was using location data from cellphones near the demonstration to pinpoint people for political profiling, and they received alarming confirmation when a court formally ordered a telephone company to hand over such data.
Earlier this month, protesters at a clash with riot police officers received text messages on their phones saying they had been “registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”
Then, three cellphone companies — Kyivstar, MTS and Life — denied that they had provided the location data to the government or had sent the text messages. Kyivstar suggested that it was instead the work of a “pirate” cellphone tower set up in the area.
In a ruling made public on Wednesday, a city court ordered Kyivstar to disclose to the police which cellphones were turned on during an antigovernment protest outside the courthouse on Jan. 10.
The order applied only to this one site on one day, and did not cover the area of the main protest, Independence Square, where sometimes more than 100,000 people have shown up, most presumably carrying cellphones whose location there could identify them as political opponents of the government.January 31, 2014 at 12:52 pm #426611
Defence Ministry Warns Of Ukraine Break-up
Fri, 31st Jan 2014 11:33
Kiev (Alliance News) – The Ukrainian Defence Ministry on Friday warned of the country's break-up and urged President Viktor Yanukovych to stabilise the situation by building national consensus.
A further escalation of the conflict between anti-government protesters and police puts the country's territorial integrity at risk, the ministry said in a statement, published after a staff meeting with Defence Minister Pavel Lebedev.
It is the first time that the Ukrainian military has publicly commented on the two-month old crisis. Protesters continue to occupy central parts of the capital Kiev, after attempts at a political solution failed earlier this week when they rejected an amnesty brokered between Yanukovych and leaders of the parliamentary opposition.
On Friday, one of the activists appeared badly beaten and claimed that he had been tortured by unknown men.
Dmytro Bulatov was shown on Ukrainian television with a badly maimed face in a village outside Kiev. He said that his captors kept him in a dark room for days and partly cut off his ear.
Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said that Bulatov's case was an attempt by authorities to intimidate the protesters.
Rights activists on Friday accused police of attacking dozens of journalists and medical workers.
An ongoing investigation found 13 cases in which reporters or medical workers were beaten, shot with rubber bullets, or injured with stun grenades, the New-York based group Human Rights Watch said.
The organization added that Ukrainian nongovernmental organizations documented more than 60 such cases and that evidence suggests that police in many cases deliberately targeted journalists and medics who were not participating in the protests.
Later on Friday, Klitschko and rival opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk were expected to participate in the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
President Yanukovych said Thursday that he had taken sick leave because of a severe cold.January 31, 2014 at 3:00 pm #426612
Is there any possibility of a worst case scenario in which the Russian troops would enter Ukraine to "stabilise" the country?January 31, 2014 at 3:11 pm #426613
@Gvarda…i think there's a bigger chance Ukraine's troops under we know how, will start with repression against west Ukraine pretty soon.January 31, 2014 at 3:43 pm #426614
AnonymousQuote:Is there any possibility of a worst case scenario in which the Russian troops would enter Ukraine to "stabilise" the country?
It's unlikely to happen. It may be not be easy to imagine but Ukraine is divided politically. Crimea is very Russian culturally. If you go to Cherkassy – central Ukraine south of Kyiv – people on the streets are speaking in Ukrainian. Further south in Odessa people speak Russian on the streets.
Eastern and southern are pro-Russian politically. These are also industrial regions of Ukraine being wealthier than the rest of Ukraine except for the capital Kyiv.
This is how people voted in the last presidential election for Yanukovich and Tymoshenko
Blue more than 50%
Yellow between 30-50%
Light brown between 20-30%
Orange less than 20%
Black rectangle in each region – Yanukovich, light gray rectangle in each region – Tymoshenko
Very few people voted for Yanukovich in western Ukraine except for Transcarpathion region (Uzhorod) in which many Rusyns live.
Yanukovich obtained 48.8%, while Tymoshenko 45.7%. So yes, the country is divided politically.
In large resolution: http://s28.postimg.org/udeesgtnx/postorange_UA.jpg
[img width=700 height=349]http://s28.postimg.org/udeesgtnx/postorange_UA.jpg” />January 31, 2014 at 3:51 pm #426615
except for Transcarpathion region (Uzhorod) in which many Rusyns live.
Why is that?January 31, 2014 at 3:56 pm #426616
AnonymousQuote:Why is that?
Rusyns are consdering themselves a separate ethnicity. Many had separatist attitudes in the 90s. There's a pre-history.February 1, 2014 at 12:01 pm #426617
Today's meeting in Munich
Ukraine unrest: EU and US clash with Russia in Munich
Ukraine's future has sparked angry exchanges at a summit in Munich.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the "future of Ukraine belongs with the EU" while US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US backed Ukraine's "fight for democracy".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused those defending violent protests of double standards.
Ukraine has been in turmoil since November, when it scrapped an EU accord in favour of a Russian bailout.
'Time on our side'
Mr Van Rompuy's opening speech at the summit referred to the EU's offer of close association with Ukraine.
"The offer is still there and we know time is on our side. The future of Ukraine belongs with the European Union," he said.
Mr Kerry said: "Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine. The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight."
He said the vast majority of protesters "want to live freely in a safe and prosperous country – they want to associate with partners who want to realise their aspirations".
In an apparent swipe at Moscow, he added: "They do not want their future to be allied with one country alone and they do not want to be coerced."
Mr Lavrov said that a "choice is being imposed [on Ukraine] and Russia is not going to be engaged in this".
He asked: "What does incitement of violent street protests have to do with the promotion of democracy? Why do we not hear condemnation of those who seize government buildings and attack police and use racist, anti-semitic and Nazi slogans?"
Mr Lavrov said European Union nations would not tolerate such actions in their own countries.
On Saturday Mr Kerry is scheduled to meet Ukraine opposition leaders said to include Arseniy Yatsenyuk, boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, legislator Petro Poroshenko and pop star Ruslana Lyzhychko.
The White House has confirmed it is discussing possible sanctions against Ukraine with the US Congress.
It was unclear whether Mr Kerry will meet Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, who is at the summit.
Before arriving in Munich, Mr Kerry said that concessions from President Viktor Yanukovych had "not yet reached an adequate level of reform".
Mr Yatsenyuk, who heads the Batkivshchyna party, recently refused an offer from President Yanukovych to become PM, one of the concessions.
President Yanukovych, who is currently on sick leave, has also tried to ease the crisis by repealing anti-protest laws, signing an amnesty for protesters and accepting the resignation of his cabinet.
However, opposition leaders are calling for his resignation and early elections.
One key issue for Mr Kerry and the opposition leaders will be the issue of Ukraine protester Dmytro Bulatov.
He says he was kidnapped and tortured and is now in hospital in Kiev under guard from both police and anti-government demonstrators.
Both White House spokesman Jay Carney and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said they were "appalled" by the apparent signs of torture on Mr Bulatov.
The 35-year-old activist, who went missing for eight days, said he had been "crucified" by his captors. He did not know who had abducted him but said they had spoken with Russian accents.
Ukraine's interior ministry says it wants to interrogate him on suspicion of organising mass unrest, and to examine his account of torture.
The security conference is an annual event held to discuss military and political affairs.
Mr Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel have been giving a joint talk, outlining the American approach for the year ahead.
The BBC's Joan Soley in Munich says the message is one of "diplomacy first" while remaining militarily prepared.
One US official told her there was "an uncertain future, security-wise".
Syria, Iran and the East Asia will be high on the agenda for all participants.February 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm #426618
ACAB the new word ordere is the problameFebruary 2, 2014 at 4:17 am #426619
AnonymousQuote:ACAB the new word ordere is the problame
Yes, yes, of course, Amanda. The "New Word Ordere" always is a "problame." I say this everyday. No one listens. We must unite the "Old Word Ordere." A..B..C..D.. is the only way! Slava!
On Saturday night, ALL channels in Poland SIMULTANEOUSLY aired this video. "Give me your hand in Ukraine". I love you Poland! :
Taraka – Podaj Rękę Ukrainie (LIVE Majdan)February 2, 2014 at 7:38 pm #426620
I personally feel that the activists are making problems for nothing. They are not going to get rich by joining the EU, that's for sure. Only some poorer politicians might get something in their pockets and so would become "bigger" politicians.February 3, 2014 at 2:32 am #426621
AnonymousQuote:I personally feel that the activists are making problems for nothing. They are not going to get rich by joining the EU, that's for sure. Only some poorer politicians might get something in their pockets and so would become "bigger" politicians.
I don't think most Ukrainians are under the illusion that EU = Great Riches. EU means a chance at a higher standard of living and a more responsible government, with greater opportunity. Moreover, the signing of the EU Association agreement was promised to the Ukrainian people by Yanukovych for several months before he reneged. He dealt with Russia behind closed doors, then surprised (shocked!) the Ukrainian people. Transparency in government dealings of this sort is an absolute requirement of true democracy.
Remember, Ukraine is a long way from being considered as a new EU membership country. The EU Association agreement is just a first, small step to that goal.
Ukraine in comparison to the West is a very poor country, especially in the more rural western parts of the country. I've seen videos of poor, old women exchanging moonshine as payment to workers to get their roofs repaired. This is ridiculous and undignified.
The most basic requirements of a democratic republic are severely missing in the Ukrainian system.
Problems which have driven this violent protest are numerous:
No independent court sytem.
Rampant human rights abuses, imprisonment for political reasons, arbitary and capricious sentencing.
Mismanagement of the Ukrainian economy by a very corrupt government, with officials and their families enriching their own bank accounts at the expense of the people. Yanukovych has a dentist son living in a multi-million dollar house. American dentists can only imagine such a life-style. I'm fairly sure Yanukovych junior didn't earn his riches filling cavities. :
Mafia-style corruption is de rigueur. Bribes, kickbacks, etc. are just the cost of living and doing business in Ukraine. This MUST stop.
The EU Association agreement is the only way to modernization and higher standards of living within Ukraine.
Ukraine must have good relations with the EU, United States and Russia. The EU offers something of a chance to realize this goal.
The Ukrainian people desire and deserve true democracy and security. Because my ancestry is so deeply connected to this region, I care and support their fight for a better, more just way of living. I would like to see Ukraine respected on the world stage, and for Ukrainians to enjoy some of the same freedoms and opportunities that I do.
Short tribute video to honor fallen Maidan hero, Mikhail Zhyznewski, who was a citizen of Belarus.
Михайло Жизневський. Честь/ Міхаіл Жызнеўскі. ГонарFebruary 3, 2014 at 3:34 am #426622
It is so sad what happened to him.February 3, 2014 at 7:56 am #426623
uhm? dont you see his hat?
"hero"?February 3, 2014 at 8:04 am #426624
AnonymousQuote:uhm? dont you see his hat?
Is that the logo used by Ukrainians who cooperated with the Nazis?
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