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 a 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.
00:40. The US is consulting with the EU on providing financial and economic assistance to Ukraine, but decision on this matter is still pending, stated U.S. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki.
08:15. President Viktor Yanukovich doesn't consider the forceful solution of the crisis in Ukraine and imposition of a state of emergency, and is ready for early parliamentary and presidential elections, stated representative of the President in the Verkhovna Rada, MP Yuriy Miroshnichenko.
Warm clothing, sleeping bags, folding beds and other things collected during the week in various Polish cities, that crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border in Dorogusk, were blocked.
Ukrainian procedure are opaque and surprised the transport organizers, reported 'Polish Radio'.
09:12. A column of Euromaidan activists has left Kyiv's Independence Square and is moving along Instytutskaya street towards the Verkhovna Rada. The column, which consists of more than one thousand people, is headed by young men in helmets with wooden sticks and in protective gear. These are followed by Euromaidan supporters dressed in civilian clothes.
09:42. Euromaidan activists are picketing Kyiv city council's session in a building of the Pechersk district administration (pictures).
09:42. Head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Klyuyev and Acting Prime Minister Sergei Arbuzov came to today's meeting of the Party of Regions, wrote the Regions Party MP Oleg Tsarev on Facebook.
According to Tsarev, the Verkhovna Rada will hardly start working today, because the government and the opposition have not agreed.
09:49. Tonight four policemen were injured in Donetsk, reported the press service of the Interior Ministry in Donetsk region.
All police officers were hospitalized. The press officer could not confirm the information on whether policemen were injured by firearms. The attacker has been already identified. Law enforcers are taking measures to arrest the offender.
10:05. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, Vladimir Rybak has opened the first meeting of the fourth session of the Verkhovna Rada VII convocation. 378 MPS registered in the session hall.
10:12. President Viktor Yanukovich intends to propose to the Verkhovna Rada to appoint current head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Klyuyev as a prime minister, said vice speaker, the 'Svoboda' party MP Ruslan Koshulinsky.
'The government has such a plan. Appointing Klyuyev as a prime minister is math. This is possible if they have enough votes. If Klyuyev will become prime minister... (deputy head of the Presidential Administration Andrei) Portnov will become head of the Presidential Administration, and (Interior Minister Vitaly) Zaharchenko will go The National Security and Defense Council. I confirm that this option is possible', he said.
10:22. A plenary session of the city council on which MPs will consider Kyiv's budget for 2014 has started. 77 lawmakers registered in the session hall, reported the press service of the Kyiv City State Administration. The session is held under police guard.
10:40. The issue of early elections to the Verkhovna Rada has been removed from the agenda, President Viktor Yanukovich is ready to form a new Cabinet, stated representative of the President in the Verkhovna Rada, MP Yuriy Miroshnichenko.
He also added that he has no information about the appointment of current head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Klyuyev as a prime minister.
10:51. Kyiv City Council Secretary Galina Gerega adjourned the meeting for 30 minutes. She also asked the deputies not to disperse. MPs will vote for a balanced budget for Kyiv by raising hands.
11:17. Ukraine ranks third in the number of applications that are under consideration of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The first two places belong to Russia and Italy.
It is reported that as of December 31, 2013, there were 13,284 applications lodged against Ukraine pending in the ECHR, and that is 13.3% of the total number of applications to the Court (about 100 thousand).
11:26. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction excluded MPs Roman Zabzalyuk and Anatoly Gritsenko from the faction, stated Parliament Speaker Vladimir Rybak.
11:36. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Rybak closed morning session of the parliament. MPs should meet at 16:00.
11:58. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Jeffrey Payette is sure that Ukraine will sign an Association Agreement with the EU and hopes that this'll happen under President Viktor Yanukovich. He also stressed that the 'democratic Ukraine is open for Europe, with a strong economy, a good life for its citizens, and it'll be good and useful for Russia'.
12:15. Kyiv City Council at today's meeting adopted city budget for 2014 with revenues of $20.1 billion and expenditures of $19.8 billion. The budget was adopted by 75 MPS out of 77 registered in the session hall. Voting was conducted by raising hands.
12:40. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko urged 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leaders not to vote for the constitutional reform and to stop negotiations with the government.
12:44. The opposition's attempts to change the constitution have no legal perspectives, stated first deputy head of the Presidential Administration Andrei Portnov.
He recalled the PACE resolution and conclusions of the Venice Commission on the Constitution of 2004. 'There are dozens of system remarks to the text of the constitution of the sample of 2004, as well as the procedure of its adoption in these documents', said Portnov.
He predicts political tensions in this regard in Ukraine's parliament, but says there is 'no legal opportunity' to return to the constitution of 2004, as the opposition now offers.
13:10. Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the ambassador of Germany Christoph Weil in connection with the statement of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the possibility of imposing sanctions against Ukraine. The ministry called to assess the situation objectively.
'Since February 3, 2014 humanitarian aid remains in Kiev interregional customs of the Ministry of Revenue temporary storage to obtain necessary permits and documents specified by the current legislation', stated the ministry on its official webiste.
The department explained that the decision on accepting humanitarian aid is provided by the customs within four hours if such goods are recognized humanitarian aid and have all the necessary documents. In this case, the Ministry noted, the decision on the recognition of humanitarian aid is made by the Ministry of Social Policy.
14:11. According to LB.ua sources in the Party of Regions, an issue of appointment of a new prime minister hasn't risen at today's meeting of the party.
14:12. Community 'Maidana Library', which is based in the Ukrainian House on Kyiv's European Square, calls on Kyivites to replenish the library with books on psychology, the writings of Nietzsche, Balzac, and some other works.
14:15. Eurodeputy Rebecca Harms, co-president of the The Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European parliament, said that Acting Prime Minister Sergey Arbuzov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Andrei Klyuyev, and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Nykolai Azarov have Austrian passports.
14:40. Leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko went to seek a meeting with President Viktor Yanukovich to address the issue of a return to the constitution of 2004.
The press service of the party reports thta Klitschko headed to the presidential administration immediately upon completion of fruitless consultations of the parliamentary factions.
14:44. Restoration of Kyiv's center after the protests may be entrusted to sponsors. Damage to the city is estimated at 20 million hryvnia (~$232 thousand).
'I think this issue will be resolved by sponsorship funds', said head of the Kyiv city administration Vladimir Makeenko. According to him, these can businesses or banks. He also added that preliminary talks have already been held, and some agreements have already been reached.
14:48. President Viktor Yanukovych has met Acting Defense Minister Pavel Lebedev to discuss the tasks facing Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2014.
15:15. Commander of the Interior Troops Lieutenant General Stanislav Shuljak has called on the Interior Troops employees to resist the calls to move to the side of Euromaidan protesters.
15:53. Leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko has completed negotiations with President Viktor Yanukovich. According to Klitschko, issue of the appointment of a new prime minister wasn't discussed. Details of negotiations were not disclosed.
15:54. AutoMaidan leader Dmitry Bulatov plans to return to Ukraine and continue 'the path to victory' after treatment in Lithuania, where he flew with multiple injuries after he had been kidnapped and tortured.
16:06. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, Vladimir Rybak has opened the evening session of the parliament. 389 MPS registered in the session hall.
16:10. Vitali Klitschko while speaking in the Verkhovna Rsada, urgently requested Ukraine's parliament to change the constitution. He also stressed that President Viktor Yanukovich told him that the process of changing the constitution takes six months.
16:29. Verkhovna Rada Speaker Vladimir Rybak closed the evening session of the parliament. After the speeches of the leaders of parliamentary factions and individual deputies Rybak said that no documents on constitutional reform have been worked out yet.
He suggested that the leaders of the factions should continue consultations in his office today in order to make a coordinated decision on tomorrow's meeting of the parliament.
16:41. Crimean parliament is considering the opportunity to appeal to Russia for protection. Thus, on Tuesday the Party of Regions MP Vladimir Klychnikov during the meeting of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of ARC said there was a need to protect the autonomous status of Crimea, which, in his opinion, is under threat of the opposition coming to power.
Crimean MPs will consider the appeal to Russia at the next session, on February 19.
17:15. The National Bank estimates the volume of foreign direct investment in Ukraine in 2013 at $3.3 billion, and that's almost two times less than in 2012, when more than $6 billion were invested in the country.
17:17. Former Ukraine's Prime Minister Nykolai Azarov said that the information about his Austrian passport is false. Acting Prime Minister Sergey Arbuzov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Andrey Klyuyev also denied information about the presence of Austrian passports.
Earlier today eurodeputy Rebecca Harms said that all three of them have Austrian passports. Now they threaten to sue her.