Sunday, 23 February 2014

Momentous events in Ukraine

Ukraine President Flees Kiev After "Coup D'Etat" As Protesters Storm Presidential Palace, Plunder Gold; Army On Hold

22 February, 2014

It has been a busy night in the Ukraine.

First, the newly-installed interior minister declared that the police were now behind the protesters they had fought for days, giving central Kiev the look of a war zone with 77 people killed, while central authority crumbled in western Ukraine. Then despite yesterday's latest anti-crisis "agreement" which we said would last at best hours, the protesters continued their pressure against embattled president Yanukovich, demanding his outright and unconditional resignation, leading to his fleeing Kiev by airplane overnight to the far more pro-Russian city of Kharkiv located in the Eastern Ukraine, even as his arch rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, who is held in prison in the same city, was rumored to have been released on her way to the far more anti-Russian city of Kiev - it turns out those rumors have so far been incorrect.

Then there was a plethora of rumors that he has or is about to either escape the country and/or resign, sparking celebrations in Kiev, only for him to appear on TV subsequently and not only deny a resignation is coming, but that he accused the current leaders in Kiev of staging a coup d'etat and that all parliamentary decisions today have been illegitimate, saying "I did all I could to avoid bloodshed" while comparing recent events in the Ukraine to the "Fascist Revolution" in Germany. This was promptly rebutted by the Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski who tweeted there is no coup in Kiev and President Viktor Yanukovych has 24 hours to sign re-adopted 2004 constitution into law.

The just released interview is below:

Most importantly, all of this is happening as governors, and regional legislators in eastern Ukraine question authority of national parliament. Meanwhile over in the "western" Kiev, Parliament members of the opposition began laying the groundwork for a change in leadership, electing Oleksander Turchynov, an ally of the imprisoned opposition leader and former prime minister, Yulia V. 

Tymoshenko, as speaker. And Mr. Klitschko called for new elections to replace Mr. Yanukovych by May 25. “Millions of Ukrainians see only one choice — early presidential and parliamentary elections,” he tweeted.

Members of an opposition group from Lviv called the 31st Hundred — carrying clubs and some of them wearing masks — were in control of the entryways to the palace Saturday morning. And Vitali Klitschko, one of three opposition leaders who signed the deal to end the violence, said that Mr. Yanukovych had “left the capital” but his whereabouts were unknown, with members of the opposition speculating that he had gone to Kharkiv, in the northeast part of Ukraine.
Protesters claimed to have established control over Kiev. By Saturday morning they had secured key intersections of the city and the government district of the capital, which police officers had fled, leaving behind burned military trucks, mattresses and heaps of garbage at the positions they had occupied for months.

All of this is pointing to a national schism between the pro-Russian east, and its new de facto capital, Kharkiv, and the western part of the nation, where the EU (and CIA) influences are strongest. Luckily, for now there won't be a military involvement:

... for now.This will likely change: moments ago Russia's Foreign Minister said Ukraine's opposition is led by "armed extremists" and their actions pose direct threat to Ukraine's sovereignty, which means a Russian involvement in some capacity is imminent.

Perhaps more important was the following statement:

That would the Russian gas which traverses the country, which can be halted with the turn of a spigot.

Bottom line, the situation is fluid, and is increasingly bordering on an all too real threat of civil war between the country's linguistically and affiliation-divided west and east.

The one thing that is clear is that the former presidential compound is now in the power of the people. From CBS.

The protesters, who are angry over corruption and want Ukraine to move toward Europe rather than Russia, claimed full control of Kiev and took up positions around the president's office and a grandiose residential compound believed to be his, though he never acknowledged it.
At the sprawling suburban Kiev compound, protesters stood guard and blocked more radical elements among them from entering the building, fearing unrest. Moderate protesters have sought to prevent their comrades from looting or taking up the weapons that have filled Kiev in recent weeks.
The compound became an emblem of the secrecy and arrogance that defines Yanukovych's presidency, painting him as a leader who basks in splendor while his country's economy suffers and his opponents are jailed. An AP journalist visiting the grounds Saturday saw manicured lawns, a pond, several luxurious houses and the big mansion itself, an elaborate confection of five stories with marble columns.
Protesters attached a Ukrainian flag to a lamppost at the compound, shouting: "Glory to Ukraine!"
A group of protesters in helmets and shields stood guard at the president's office Saturday. No police were in sight.

Which brings us to the most interesting finding of the day: what has so far been plundered from the palace:

Inside Yanukovych's private residence

Pictures emerging from the president's private residence in the outskirts of Kyiv after protesters stormed the building.

"It's just like being in Monaco" - man on phone next to me at Yanukovich's residence outside Kiev

Protesters with an "euromaidan" flag at Yanukovych's balcony.

Смотрите крутые фотографии от @EvgenyFeldman 

And as usually happens, the plundering has revealed numerous golden coins discovered in Yanukovych's garage and a 1 kg gold coin with the president's portrait.

Finally, for the blow by blow, or rather tweet by tweet of events in the past 24 hours, we go to Euronews which has done the best job of summairizing the constatntly changing situation:

On an interview broadcast minutes ago on ukrainian TV UBR, and recorded at 12h30, president Yanukovych refuses to resign saying "we've taken all the steps to stabilize the country, we voted an amnesty law and organised early elections". 

The president that fled Kyiv to go to Kharkiv also says, "I'm trying to protect people from bandits". Yanukovitch compares also Ukraine now to Nazi Germany in the 30s. In the interview, the president assures that he's not leaving the country. He also denounced on Saturday what he described as a "coup d'etat". 

"The events witnessed by our country and the whole world  are an example of a coup d'etat," he was quoted as saying.

Yatseniuk says he spoke with Yanik and confirms he has resigned

Yanukovych resignation to be read soon at the parliament

Euronews' correspondents in Kyiv report that the statement should be read at the 
parliament in the next minutes.

Waiting for the release of jailed former Prime-Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. 

Arsenyi Yatseniuk, opposition leader in Ukraine, wants Yanukovych investigated re protest deaths

Conflicting reports that she was already freed from Kharkiv jail.

Took this picture about 1,5 years ago. Tonight expected on

Tymoshenko daughter speaks to Kyiv Post at parliament, says releasing her mom won't be easy

Ukraine chaos LIVE UPDATES

22 February, 2014

Protests in Kiev continue despite President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders signing an EU-brokered agreement which seeks to end the bloody political crisis in the country.

Saturday, February 22

20:35 GMT:
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko called on protesters not to abandon Independence Square, even though the deal with opposition leaders has already been signed.
"You have no right to leave Maidan...Don't stop yet,” she told rioters in an emotional speech.

20:14 GMT:
The acting minister of internal affairs, appointed by the Rada earlier on Saturday, has announced a joint meeting of Ukrainian law enforcement, police, and security forces which have taken part in the protection of Independence Square during the violent riots. The meeting will also include members of the Freedom and Right Sector nationalist groups. 
I have to say, honestly, the situation in Kiev is not simple. Trust in the police has been lost,” Arsen Avakov told local Channel Five TV station.

Avakov said that he and Valentin Nalivaichenko – newly appointed by the Rada to lead the Ukrainian Security Service – will lead the meeting, during which they plan to agree on joint actions and patrolling of the new Ukrainian police, which Avakov said is now on the side of the people.
I think, in the shortest time we will restore control over the situation, and there will be no unpleasant incidents,” Avakov said.

20:14 GMT:
Kharkov regional Governor Mikhail Dobkin and the head of the Kharkov administration, Gennady Kernes, have left Ukraine for Russia, Unian news agency cited Ukrainian border control as saying.
20:10 GMT:
Newly-freed Yulia Tymoshenko has given a trademark firebrand speech in front of a large crowd on Independence Square, calling for trials for those responsible for the scores of deaths during the stand-off in Kiev over the past three months.
'When snipers were shooting in hearts of our guys, those bullets will always hurt. If we don't prosecute, we should be ashamed,” said the former prime minister, who says that she will run for president in May.

20:09 GMT:
The radical nationalists Right Sector say they will not be leaving Independence Square, defying new Rada speaker Aleksandr Turchinov who has told all those who have manned the barricades for the past weeks to return to their homes, saying that all political objectives have been achieved.
Insofar as we – Right Sector - are concerned, we are going nowhere,” said a statement from the movement on social network

The group previously said that its demands – which include a ban on the Communist Party and the Party of Regions – have still not been met.
20:06 GMT:

in Spain, 2000 demonstrate in solidarity with White power and Golden Dawn logos prominent

19:41 GMT:
Eighty-two people have died since violence reignited in Kiev last week. Earlier, the local Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that 80 people had been killed, while the Health Ministry put the number at 77. A total of 589 people have been injured, according to the Health Ministry. Nineteen people have sought medical help on Saturday. Fifteen of those have been hospitalized.
19:37 GMT:
The US has urged the formation of a national unity government in Ukraine, calling on both sides to end the violence and take part in democratic dialogue. The White House has also expressed its readiness to work with the EU and Russia to restore unity in Ukraine.
18:38 GMT:
Viktor Yanukovich and several other high-ranking officials made an unsuccessful attempt to flee to Russia, according to new Rada speaker Aleksandr Turchinov.
Yanukovich was trying to board a plane headed to Russia, but the border guards stopped him. Now, he is hiding somewhere in the Donetsk region,” he said while introducing the new acting interior minister.

He also claimed the former general prosecutor Viktor Pshonka and tax minister Aleksandr Klimenko tried to cross the border by car.
There was an attempt to detain them, but their bodyguards opened fire, and they escaped,” said Turchinov.

17:57 GMT:
Freed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has arrived in Kiev, ITAR-TASS news agency reports, citing a source. She is reportedly traveling from the airport to Independence Square.

Ukrainian parliament impeaches Yanukovich

The Ukrainian parliament has voted for the resignation of the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, citing "not fulfilling duties." The parliament also voted for a resolution according to which early presidential elections will be held May 25.

Freed ex-PM Tymoshenko addresses crowd in Kiev

Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is urging people to stay put until all their demands have been met. She is addressing crowds on Independence Square, just hours after being released from jail. Lawmakers in Ukraine have now voted to dismiss President Viktor Yanukovich for crimes against the people. That's the latest ruling by the now opposition-dominated parliament. RT's Egor Piskunov is watching the situation in the capital which has transformed from scenes of deadly violence to united crowds

I’m not leaving’: Yanukovich accuses opposition of coup d’etat, calls on EU to fulfill obligations

22 February, 2014

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has called the latest developments in the country a coup d’etat, denying speculations of his resignation. He also accused international mediators of not fulfilling their obligations.


I'm always threatened with ultimatums. I'm not going to leave the country,” Yanukovich said in an interview with local UBR TV channel. I'm not going to resign. I'm a legitimately elected president.”

The interview with the embattled president was broadcast right after the opposition claimed it had received verbal assurances that Yanukovich was resigning.
But as parliament deputies said they were waiting for the written confirmation on his resignation, the president announced his plans to travel across the country's southeast, which is so far, less dangerous.”

"Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and bandits and a coup d'etat,"Yanukovich said in a televised statement.

On Saturday, Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada) held a new emergency session, during which it passed a law on the return to the 2004 constitution without the president's signature, saying that the president had removed himself from power.
It also appointed a new head of the Ministry of Interior and a new head speaker of the Rada. In addition, parliament ruled to free former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko from prison and set early presidential elections for May 25.
A general view of Ukraine's parliament during the vote to remove President Viktor Yanukovich from office hours after he abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup, in a session in Kiev February 22, 2014. (Reuters / Stringer)
A general view of Ukraine's parliament during the vote to remove President Viktor Yanukovich from office hours after he abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup, in a session in Kiev February 22, 2014. (Reuters / Stringer)

But Yanukovich says the motions passed by parliament are illegitimate, and says he will not sign any of them.

The decisions that they are now approving are illegal. I won't sign anything,” he told UBR journalists in Kharkov. "This is not an opposition, these are bandits.”

The president said his car had been shot at while he was traveling to the airport to go to Kharkov.
"But I have no fear. I am overwhelmed by grief for our country. I feel responsibility," he said.

"I'm doing everything to prevent the bloodshed of the people who are close to me,” Yanukovich stated, referring to his supportive deputies who he said are being threatened, beaten, and targeted by stone-throwing rioters.

He compared the situation in turbulent Ukraine – which is facing its worst political crisis in modern history – to the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s.
"We now see the same what was [happening] in 1930s, when the Nazis came to power. [They] forbade [political] parties...It's the same now – [they] ban the party, stalk, beat people, burn down offices," he said.

Will EU mediators fulfill their responsibilities?

Yanukovich is determined to do whatever it takes to stop the bloodshed” and protect Ukraine from a split.” But the president admits: "I still don’t know how I am going to do it.”

The leader has stated that he expects international mediators to fulfill their commitments.
What we are going to do depends on the reaction from the international community, how they are going to meet their responsibilities,” Yanukovich said. 

The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, still legitimate, reported yesterday he was speaking with Europeans, with Poland’s head of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the US. I hope to hold negotiations in the coming days.”

Yanukovich will call on EU mediators to stop “actions by radicals.”
I was given guarantees of all the international mediators, with whom I worked. They gave security assurances. I'll see how they will perform this role,” he said.

On Friday, Yanukovich and opposition leaders signed an EU-brokered agreement on ending the political crisis in the country. While it stipulated five major conditions, the agreement did not give the opposition the power to impose new laws or appointments without presidential approval, though they have attempted to do just that.
The signed peace deal document between Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders is seen in Kiev, February 21, 2014. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)
The signed peace deal document between Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders is seen in Kiev, February 21, 2014. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

Thus the conditions of the deal are being clearly violated. However, the EU – which mediated the deal between the opposition and ruling government – remains quiet.

What the Ukrainian opposition IS NOT fulfilling:

1. Within 48 hours of the signing of this agreement, a special law will be adopted, signed and promulgated, which will restore the Constitution of 2004 including amendments passed until now. Signatories declare their intention to create a coalition and form a national unity government within 10 days thereafter.
2. Constitutional reform, balancing the powers of the President, the government and parliament, will start immediately and be completed in September 2014.
3. Presidential elections will be held as soon as the new Constitution is adopted but no later than December 2014. New electoral laws will be passed and a new Central Election Commission will be formed on the basis of proportionality and in accordance with the OSCE & Venice commission rules.
4. Investigation into recent acts of violence will be conducted under joint monitoring from the authorities, the opposition and the Council of Europe.

Lavrov to EU: Urge opposition to fulfill the deal

On Saturday, the foreign ministers of France, Poland, and Germany – the trio that most actively helped reach the deal between the rival sides in Kiev – admitted that opposition leaders have broken the agreement, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The three EU ministers have spoken separately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who has voiced concerns over the Ukrainian opposition’s failure to fulfill the conditions of the agreement.
"The opposition not only has failed to fulfill a single of its obligations but is already presenting new demands all the time, following the lead of armed extremists and thugs whose actions pose direct threat to Ukraine's sovereignty and constitutional order," Lavrov told the ministers.

Russia’s FM has called on his counterparts to use their influence with the Ukrainian opposition to stop what he described as rampages by its supporters.
It is time to stop misleading the international community and pretend that today’s Maidan represents the interests of the Ukrainian people,” Lavrov said.

But it seems that German Foreign Minister Steinmeier also has a separate agreement with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"Agreed with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier today to support new government in Ukraine and push for vital IMF financial package," Hague stated on Twitter.

Agreed with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier today to support new government in and push for vital IMF financial package

Sergey Lavrov also voiced his concerns in a talk with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The Russian FM told his counterpart that Kiev had been taken over by "illegal extremist groups," adding that the situation in Ukraine has sharply escalated, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


  1. The Balkanisation of the Ukraine has commenced.The situation will spiral downward quickly. In 1939 in Europe the situation looked grim. 6 short years later 50million people were DEAD. We have been warned.

    1. Meanwhile CNN is cheerleading for the far-Right coup.