LB.ua chronicles the latest events in Ukraine in English for foreign readers.
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On January 16 The Verkhovna Rada adopted more than a dozen of controversial amendments to the law 'On the Judicial System and Status of Judges' and the procedural laws regarding additional measures to protect the safety of citizens. Most opposition politicians, international organizations and European countries consider these laws a violation of basic constitutional rights of 45 million citizens of Ukraine.
On Sunday, January 19, clashes broke out between Euromaidan protesters and police on Hrushevskoho Street in the centre of Kyiv, after radical protesters decided to break through the police cordon in the direction of the Government House and the Verkhovna Rada.
Six people were killed in clashes on Hrushevskoho Street, but only two deaths were confirmed officially. According to coordinator of Euromaidan medical services Oleg Musiy, four of them died of bullet wounds - to the head, heart, chest and neck.
Unrest on Hrushevskoho Street continues for the second week.
Now opposition leaders - Arseniy Yatsenyuk ('Batkivshchyna'), Vitali Klitschko ('UDAR') and Oleg Tyagnibok ('Svoboda') - are trying to put an end to the political crisis in Ukraine and bloodshed on Hrushevskoho Street.
On January 24 Euromaidan supporters started seizing buildings of regional state administration all over Ukraine. Some attempts were successful.
On January 25 President Viktor Yanukovich offered the opposition several top government posts. Thus, Yanukovich offered Arseny Yatseniyuk the post of prime minister to replace Nykolai Azarov, whose government would be expected to resign. Vitali Klitschko, a former international boxing champion, would be appointed deputy prime minister responsible for humanitarian issues. But opposition leaders, supported by thousands of protesters massing in Kyiv's city centre, continued to press for further concessions, including early elections and the repeal of an anti-protest law.
At the same time, Ukraine's Interior Minister Vitaliy Zaharchenko had said that all those who occupied public buildings and stayed on Kyiv's Independence Square would be considered to be 'extremist groups' by police. According to him, police would use force against those who went over to the side of the radical protesters, who have clashed with police in front of the football stadium since last Sunday.
On January 28 Ukrainian Prime Minister Nykolai Azarov resigned, and a series of sweeping anti-protest laws, adopted hastily in response to increasingly violent clashes between protesters and police, were abolished by parliament.
On January 29 the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, approved a law that would grant an amnesty to arrested protesters, but depended on the demonstrators vacating all occupied government buildings. After 12 hours of negotiations the amnesty was agreed by 232 votes from the Regions Party members and the Communist Party amid applause from the 'regionals' and angry shouts 'Shame!' from the opposition.
The weekend was relatively calm. It's expected that after the visit of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to Ukraine later this week, the EU will consider sanctions against Ukraine. In the mean time, former Ukrainian Interior Minister and head of the public organization 'Ukrainian Third Republic' Yuriy Lutsenko said there is no point in negotiating between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovich, and called on the Ukrainians to join the ranks of Euromaidan self-defence units.
Individual MP Pyotr Poroshenko, in his turn, announced the establishment of an international commission to investigate crimes of the Ukrainian authorities against Euromaidan protesters. According to him, the investigative commission will be created on Wednesday or Thursday (Feb.5-6). It'' ll work in Ukraine and will establish the facts of the criminal abuse of the Ukrainian people.
08:22. Leader of the 'Spilna Sprava' ('Common Cause') civil movement Alexander Danyluk fled abroad. According to him, it's not safe to stay in Ukraine, but he's going to return to Kyiv in the nearest future.
On Friday, January 31, the Interior Ministry announced Danyluk wanted on suspicion of organizing mass riots (Art. 294 CC, Part 2, punishment up to 15 years in prison).
08:36. AutoMaidan leader Dmitry Bulatov, who flew abroad for treatment on Sunday, February 2, remains a suspect in organizing mass riots (Art. 294 CC, Part 2).
Bulatov went missing on January 22, and was found on January 30, when he came out of forest near Kyiv.
He said he was tortured, cut, his kidnappers tried to gouge out his eye, but fortunately didn't do that. According to Bulatov, his kidnapping occurred on Troeshchina (district in Kyiv -ed.) and was operated by professionals. All this time he was kept in a dark place and for the first few days his kidnappers didn't give him any food.
The Ukrainian authorities said that Bulatov's kidnapping was a provocation by the opposition and said that he was fit.
09:21. U.S. and EU develop a plan of financial assistance for Ukraine, reported The Wall Street Journal, citing the head of European diplomacy Catherine Ashton and some unnamed U.S. officials. Moreover, according to Ashton, the amount of aid won't be small, bit it'll most probably be divided into several pieces.
10:10. Euromaidan activist Mikhail Zhiznevsky received fatal gunshot wound before the eyes of his friend Taras Kobyalko. Journalists managed to find Kobyalko in the Ukrainian House on Kyiv's European Square, where anti-government protesters' base is located.
According to Kobyalko, Zhiznevsky was standing with wooden shield near a bus on Hrushevskoho Street during the retreat of riot police to protect Euromaidan activists from rubber bullets. Then Zhiznevsky was lying on a pavement with metal bullet in the heart. Kobyalko said that his friend fell on his back in the direction of the Ukrainian House, and there was a big hole in the shield, which he used to defend himself. Kobyalko says he's convinced that the bullet flew from the side of law enforcers.
10:22. Honoured Doctor of Ukraine Olga Bohomolets, who is responsible for the provision of medical care on Euromaidan, said there was a possibility to treat the wounded activists abroad.
'Please respond wounded on Hrushevskoho and Instytutska Street, who need rehabilitation and medical treatment abroad! We are able to arrange your treatment in Poland, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, America. Just send us your contact information!', she wrote on Facebook.
10:45. The Communist Party of Ukraine said that on February 2 a monument to Joseph Stalin was opened in Lutsk.
11:03. About 100 people are picketing Desnynskiy district administration's building in Kyiv with a demand for officials to support peaceful protest.
11:23. Poland has gathered 10 tons of humanitarian aid for protesters on Kyiv's Independence Square. The first vehicle has already crossed the Ukrainian border.
11:33. The Interior Ministry is investigating three possible versions of Automaidan leader Dmitry Bulatov's abduction.
It's also reported that the investigative team has worked the whole complex of investigative and operational search actions on the case. Moreover, Bulatov was questioned before flying to Lithuania.
Investigative Department practised three versions of Dmitry Bulatov's abduction:
- criminal offence committed in connection with Dmitry Bulatov's commercial activity for ransom;
- criminal offence committed of hooliganism;
- criminal proceeding to provoke a riot.
11:48. The opposition advocates that at the plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) on February 4 MPs consider the act of returning to the constitution of 2004, 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk has said.
12:03. Leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko at a meeting of the conciliatory council of the Verkhovna Rada supported the adoption of a new law on protection from persecution of protesters and a mechanism to immediately return to the constitution of 2004.
12:12. Parliament's faction leaders at the conciliatory council could not agree on the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada for this plenary week and thus have gone to the office of Speaker Vladimir Rybak for negotiations.
12:32. Last week, Russia banned the import of pork from the European Union in connection with the detection of African swine fever in Lithuania. Polish Gazeta Wyborcza believes that the embargo could be a beginning of a trade war with the EU because of its position regarding Ukraine.
12:35. Police reported the arrest of 'two activists from the Maidan with weapons', which they allegedly received at Kyiv's Independence Square, reported the press office of the Interior Ministry.
13:03. Ukrainian MP, chairman of the Committee on National Security and Defence Vladimir Litvin said that some MPs may be deprived of mandates.
13:20. Russian Foreign Ministry condemned Vitali Klitschko for his call on Ukrainians to defend themselves. Moscow believes that Ukrainian opposition is trying to escalate the situation in the country.
13:39. The requirement for the federalization of Ukraine is not the official position of the Party of Regions, said leader of the Regions Party Alexander Yefremov.
13:59. Russian journalist Nikita Perfilyev in his blog on Livejournal said that on the night of February 1 he and his colleague-operator were put into a car with tinted windows that drove around Kyiv for several hours, and unidentified men knocked out his teeth and advised them to leave Ukraine. A few of his personal belongings were taken away.
Perfilyev also called false statement by Kyiv's police on his detention for bullying.
At the same time the Interior Ministry reports that two Russian citizens with obvious signs of intoxication at first attempted to smash the entrance to a building with ATM were detained and soon released by police, and then fought and were hospitalized.
14:25. The 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement and veterans of Afghanistan have agreed with the head of the SBU Alexander Yakymenko and First Deputy Interior Minister Viktor Dubovik on release of detained activists.
The agreement took place on Friday, Jan. 31, said Oleg Mikhnyuk, spokesman of the 'Afghans', at a press briefing at the Ukrainian House. According to him, after another 116 activists (112 have already been released) on February 7 activists promise to unlock the KSCA and the Ukrainian House.
14:45. 77 out of 114 lawmakers of Ivano-Frankovsk Regional Council expressed distrust to head of the regional state administration Vasil Chudnov.
14:46. The tense situation in Ukraine affects the number of orders for the domestic IT-industry, wrote the 'UDAR' party MP Olga Belkova blog in LB.ua. According to her, Western clients are afraid of starting new projects until everything 'quiets down'.
15:19. Euromaidan activists have installed 'golden toilet' at the site of the destroyed monument to Lenin in the centre of Kyiv.
There are some stories, according to which the golden toilets are supposedly installed in the residence of President Viktor Yanukovych in Mezhigorie. The ruling Party of Regions says it's nothing more than rumors.
15:30. Shevchenkovskiy Kyiv's court issued a warrant for the search of the apartment of one of Automaidan leaders, Alexey Gritsenko. He was charged under Part 2 Art. 294 (riots) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and is attributed to the categories of persons who are hiding from the bodies of pre-trial investigation. As a preventive measure he may be detained.
15:44. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Rybak assured foreign diplomats that imposition of a state of emergency in Ukraine is not possible, said EU Ambassador to Ukraine Ian Tombinsky after meeting of the international diplomats with the chairman of Ukraine's parliament.
16:07. Today the Uzhgorod City Council announced a creation of a temporary representative body - the People's Rada.
According to the Zakarpatie regional organization of the 'UDAR' party, local People's Rada was composed of 11 public activists of Euromaidan and 11 city lawmakers. The purpose of this association is to provide a complete restart of power at all levels.
16:14. Four cars have been burnt down in Kyiv tonight. At the same time, the Interior Ministry said on February 1 about detention in Kyiv of a citizen of Georgia, who is suspected of setting cars in the capital on fire.
16:26. Euromaidan self-defence has authorized the 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement and veterans of Afghanistan to negotiate with the Interior Ministry and SBU on conditions of release of administrative buildings in Kyib, told commandant of the House of Trade Unions Andrew Paruby in an interview to LB.ua.
According to him, negotiations are really underway, but the information that the Afghans and the 'Right sector' and ready to vacate the Ukrainian house and the KSCA buildings in exchange for the release of the protesters arrested by the authorities is not true.
16:28. Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, will come to Ukraine with an official visit on February 4-10.
16:30. Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski says believes that the 'political break' in the confrontation between the parties in Ukraine won't last more than two weeks, so the opposition and activists should find a way out of the current crisis in these terms.
16:47. There is a majority in the Verkhovna Rada that will vote for the return to the constitution of 2004 and form a coalition government, said individual MP, chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on urban construction and local governments David Zhvania.
16:48. Culture Minister Leonid Novohatko appealed to the Prosecutor of Kyiv to provide him with information about the circumstances and reasons for the detention of students of the National University of Karpenko-Kary, as well as the charges against them.
The minister said that cultural and social activists, as well as journalists address him and express their concern with the detention of the students and of one graduate of the university. According to the university administration, detained students, who are accused of violating the Criminal Code Art. 294 - riots, could be on Hrushevskoho Street by chance, following their 'professional interests'.
17:00. Former Russian finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, the famous economist believes that the Russian authorities should require Ukraine to implement reforms in exchange for loans, because otherwise Russian money won't be returned.
17:06. 136 journalists have suffered while performing their professional duties during the mass protests in Ukraine, starting from November 21, reported the Institute of Mass Information, which checks information about the affected journalists, photographers and cameramen in Kyiv and other cities.
According to the Institute, the majority of those journalists - 80 cases - have suffered in the last two weeks (from January 19 to February 2, 2014).
17:41. Kyiv Court of Appeals released under house arrest six Euromaidan activists, who earlier were sentenced to arrest for two months as a preventive measure.
17:55. There is no specific plan for financial assistance to Ukraine by the EU and the U.S. yet, said spokesman of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, Maya Kosyanchich.
17:56. President Viktor Yanukovich intends to visit Sochi (Russia), where an opening ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympic Games will take place on February 7, said the Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara.
The minister did not specify the exact date of the visit of the head of state to Russia.
'(It is necessary) to say 'no' to extremism, radicalism, fomenting hatred in the society, which is based on the political struggle for power', he said during a meeting with members of the international round table 'The democratic process and the threat of radicalism in Ukraine', which was held in Kyiv today, reported the presidential press service.