This is how US corporate media is playing it. Very objective NOT!
Ukrainian opposition leader released from prison, calls for justice
Ukrainian opposition leader released from prison, calls for justice
22 February, 2014
Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) -- Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison Saturday as President Viktor Yanukovych vowed not to step down or leave the country.
Tymoshenko's release was the latest in a day of dramatic, fast-paced developments that saw the Parliament vote to remove Yanukovych from office and call for new elections.
"Today, Ukraine has finished with this terrible dictator, Mr. Yanukovych," Tymoshenko told a cheering crowd of thousands in Kiev's Independence Square, the scene of deadly demonstrations.
Just hours after her release from a prison hospital, Tymoshenko called for justice for protesters killed in the demonstrations.
"You were able to change Ukraine, and you can do everything," she told the crowd. "Everyone has a right to take part in building a European, independent state."
But Yanukovych took to the air and insisted he would not resign or leave the country.
He spoke in Kharkiv, a pro-Russian stronghold, as the nation's Parliament voted to hold new elections on May 25.
The vote came a day after Yanukovych signed a peace deal with the opposition intended to end days of bloody protests and fueling speculation he might heed calls for him to step down.
At the presidential residence in a Kiev suburb, his living quarters were vacant, his guards were gone.
Government buildings, protest gatherings and the central city were devoid of police and security forces, who had opened fire on protesters this week, killing dozens.
As a CNN crew drove to Yanukovych's residence, it passed checkpoints set up by protesters.
When the crew arrived, the gatekeepers said they were not allowing the general public onto the grounds, but they let journalists enter. The civil servants asked that the reporters treat his home as a crime scene and referred to it as the "people's residence."
A senior U.S. State Department official said Yanukovych had left Kiev for Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv after Friday's peace agreement that European Union leaders helped broker. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had been on the phone with Ukraine's foreign minister.
That's "not unusual," the official said.
Yanukovych has strong support in the East, where many ethnic Russians live. The opposition was triggered by his loyalty to Russia and a decision in November to turn away from a deal with the European Union.
In many parts of Ukraine, people have toppled statues of former Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin, a founder of the Soviet Union. The communist empire had included Ukraine, and the country gained independence in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union.
In the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, one of Yanukovych's chief opponents called for him to be pushed from office as soon as possible.
Parliament passed a resolution to free Tymoshenko, a hero of the country's 2004 revolution. She was sentenced in 2011 to seven years in prison after being convicted of abuse of authority over a natural gas deal negotiated with Russia in 2009.
The case against her was widely considered in the West to have been politically motivated.
In 2012, after she was allegedly beaten unconscious by guards, she went on a hunger strike to draw attention to "violence and lack of rights" in her country.
In Washington, White House press secretary Jay Carney said U.S. officials were closely monitoring developments. "We have consistently advocated a de-escalation of violence, constitutional change, a coalition government, and early elections, and today's developments could move us closer to that goal," he said in a statement.
"The unshakeable principle guiding events must be that the people of Ukraine determine their own future," he said, adding that the United States will support the Ukrainian people "as they pursue a path of democracy and economic development."
Key Yanukovych allies left office, and the presidential duties were handed off until a new cabinet is selected.
During the parliamentary session, resignations were announced for the speaker and another leading presidential ally.
Hours later, Parliament elected a new speaker, a rival to Yanukovych, and gave him the duty of coordinating the executive office until a new cabinet is in place.
Another opposition parliamentarian received the duties of acting interior minister.
The Verkhovna Rada sacked Yanukovych's prosecutor general.
On Friday, the Rada rolled up its sleeves to implement the peace agreement, limiting the President's power and rolling back the Constitution to what it had been in 2004.
The deal requires presidential elections be held "as soon as the new Constitution is adopted" but no later than December.
Members of Parliament also called for an investigation into this week's violence and restricted police powers on the use of force, as called for by the agreement.
Over the weekend, protesters were to turn in their illegal weapons and withdraw from streets and public buildings.
But, after a week of bloodshed, no one appeared to have gotten what they wanted from Friday's peace deal, which was brokered by the foreign ministers of Poland, Germany and France.
The deal takes away many of Yanukovych's powers soon -- and his office completely, before the year is up. That's not soon enough for some.
Protesters who have occupied Kiev's Maidan, or Independence Square, for months and watched dozens of fellow demonstrators die this week want him out of office.
Early Saturday, a large crowd gathered in the square for funeral ceremonies.
On Friday night, after the deal was announced, demonstrators held a procession to remember their dead. Pallbearers carried coffins over the heads of a throng of people holding up lights in their honor.
Pavel, a demonstrator who identified himself only by his first name, said he'd helped carry away people with bullet wounds Thursday.
Pavel said on Friday that he won't forget his fallen compatriots, nor will he give up the fight.
"As long as (Yanukovych) is president," he said, "the movement will continue."
But other protesters showed support for the deal. Its announcement at Independence Square on Friday drew cheers.
And when Vitali Klitschko, an opposition leader who has acted a spokesman for the movement, took the stage Friday, his contention that the government was trying to divide the protesters drew jeers.
The unrest began in November, when Yanukovych scrapped a European Union trade deal and turned toward Russia.
The country is ethnically split, with many ethnic Russians living in the East. The rest of the country comprises mostly ethnic Ukrainians.
Russia, which has offered to lend money to cash-strapped Ukraine in a deal worth billions of dollars and to lower its gas prices, has pressured Yanukovych to crack down on demonstrators.
Western leaders, who have offered Ukraine a long-term aid package requiring economic modernization, urged him to show restraint, open the government to the opposition and let the democratic process work out deep-seated political differences.
But the fight was also about corruption and control. The opposition called Yanukovych heavy-handed, with Klitschko and others saying protesters wouldn't leave Independence Square until he resigned.
Tensions boiled over Tuesday, when security forces charged into a Kiev crowd with stun grenades, nightsticks and armored personnel carriers. At least 26 people -- protesters and police alike -- were killed.
Late Wednesday, the government announced a truce.
But on Thursday, protesters pursued police as they withdrew. Security forces fired back, sending dozens of protesters tumbling to the ground.
Then came Friday's agreement.