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.
At least six people have been killed in the past two weeks in unprecedented politically-linked violence in Kyiv.
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 and all over Ukraine.
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.
The opposition, buoyed by Western expressions of support, pressed on Tuesday, February 4, in parliament for a return to a previous constitution of 2004, which would mean Yanukovich losing some of the key powers he has accumulated since being elected in 2010. These include appointing the prime minister and entire government as well as regional governors. The opposition also wants an unconditional amnesty for protesters detained in the unrest to be broadened into an unconditional pardon for all those being held by police.
08:29. Most of the rules provided by scandalous laws adopted on January 16, restricting civil liberties, retain their functionality even after the decision of the Verkhovna Rada to lift them. This is evidenced by legislative base of the Verkhovna Rada.
08:44. Vitaly Ruban from Poltava region of Ukraine told that police tortured him and forced him to tell on camera about the weapons allegedly received on Kyiv's Independence Square, where Euromaidan base is located. A video with his story was published on YouTube.
On February 3 the Interior Ministry announced the arrest of two people from the Maidan with weapons. He was put under house arrest for two months.
08:59. President Viktor Yanukovich discussed the latest events in Ukraine with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden by phone on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Biden said that the U.S. believes that Viktor Yanukovich should use every opportunity, including proposals for the provision of international financial assistance to Kyiv in order to reduce tensions in Ukraine.
09:28. Czech capital Prague has refused to participate in the organization of the visit of President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich. The city administration adopted appropriate decision on February 4.
Prague mayor also said that Czech capital will provide victims among Ukrainian demonstrators wounded in clashes in Ukraine with financial assistance of 500 thousand CZK (almost 215 thousand UAH or ~$23 thousand).
10:15. President Viktor Yanukovich will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, reported the press service of the Russian president.
Ukraine's way out of the crisis may depend on this conversation.
10:25. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Rybak has opened the morning session of the parliament. 398 deputies registered in the session hall. Constitutional reform is not on agenda.
11:00. The Interior Ministry stated that volunteer of Euromaidan medical service Alexandra Haylak lied about her kidnapping by employees of 'Berkut' riot police.
According to the statement on the ministry's website, on January 24 the media distributed information that Alexandra Haylak was allegedly kidnapped by 'Berkut' employees on Kyiv's railway station. Then 'Berkut' mocked her and finally took her into the woods, leaving her in the cold.
'Law enforcers who checked this information, identified the girl. She was a 19-year-old resident of Kyiv region. Turned out that on a day of her alleged 'kidnapping' at the train station she was on so-called 'Euromaidan', stated the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
'Subsequently she admitted that she made a false report to the media at the request of an unknown man named Andrei. He promised her a reward of 500 hryvnia (~$60) for telling on camera what he told her to say', says the statement.
11:20. Acting Prime Minister Sergey Arbuzov believes that the devaluation of hryvnia is partly due to the political situation in the country. He made such a statement during his speech at a government meeting.
11:45. Austrian Embassy to Ukraine has officially denied information that former Prime Minister Nykolai Azarov, Acting Prime Minister Sergei Arbuzov and Head of the Presidential Administration Andrei Klyuyev have passports of this country.
11:47. Acting Prime Minister Sergey Arbuzov stated that due to negotiations between the government and the opposition, the degree of conflict on Ukrainian streets decreased. He also stressed that this is President Viktor Yanukovich's merit.
11:49. Parliament Speaker Vladimir Rybak has closed the morning session of the Verkhovna Rada because MPs were unable to establish the work. He demanded that for tomorrow's meeting, which begins at 10:00, faction leaders should turn out proposals to amend the constitution.
11:50. Ukrainian Olympians will get more than one million UAH (~$110 thousand) for every gold medal in Sochi, stated Acting Prime Minister Sergei Arbuzov.
12:31. Head of the Party of Regions Alexander Efremov said that if the Verkhovna Rada doesn't work in normal mode, it'll be dissolved.
At the moment there are no constitutional grounds for the relevant decree.
13:03. 56 Ukrainian diplomats have joined 17 their colleagues, who yesterday signed a petition in which they expressed their solidarity with Euromaidan. The petition is available at ukrdiplomat.wordpress.com.
12:47. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton is holding a meeting with President Viktor Yanukovich. Earlier diplomat met with the opposition leaders.
The purpose of her visit to Ukraine is to promote European official's settlement of the crisis in the country.
13:08. In 2012-2013 the Ministry of Internal Affairs by the results of the tenders purchased about 17 thousand 12-mm ammunition 'for forcible stoppage of vehicles'. Tender for their purchase was held bypassing permission of the Cabinet of Ministers.
According to an investigation by Russian journalist Arkady Babchenk, Euromaidan activists Mikhail Zhiznevsky and Roman Senik were killed by such ammunition.
13:46. Leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko, his counterpart from the 'Svoboda' party Oleg Tyagnibok and 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction MP Alexander Turchinov introduced a bill on the constitutional reform.
Bill number 4092 "On the Repeal of the Law of Ukraine of October 7, 2010 № 2592-VI 'On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine to bring them into conformity with the Constitution of Ukraine' in fact, means the return to the Constitution amended in 2004 without making changes directly to the main law.
13:57. Activists of the 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement and 'UNA-UNSO' decided to leave the Rovno regional administration's building. Earlier radicals announced an agreement with the security forces.
14:10. The Ministry of Justice regained legal norms that have been changed due to the adoption of scandalous laws on January 16, 2014, and returned them to their original condition.
14:50. The All-Ukrainian Union 'Svoboda' leadership and members of their families are being threatened with physical violence, stated 'Svoboda' MP Yuri Sirotyuk, reported the press service of the party.
According to him, on February 3 on behalf of the government representatives of one of the 'bandit gangs' went to negotiate with one of 'Svoboda' deputy head in the center of Kyiv. They put a condition: if 'Svoboda' doesn't stop its activity and opposition to the President - they physically destroy the family of the party's leader Oleg Tyagnibok and of deputy heads of the party.
15:01. Lithuanian government plans to allocate 150 thousand litas (about 43.5 thousand euros) for the treatment of wounded Euromaidan activists. Money for this purpose will be taken from the government reserve.
15:39. The Court of Appeal in Cherkassy region has changed preventive measure against AutoMaidan coordinator Sergey Hadzhinov from two months in custody to two months under house arrest.
15:44. Leader of the Party of Regions faction Alexander Yefremov believes that it is more expedient to negotiate with Euromaidan representatives rather than with the opposition.
15:59. The European Parliament may issue sanctions against Ukrainian officials responsible for violence against Euromaidan activists until the end of February 2014, stated Vice-President of the European Parliament Jacek Protasiewicz in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
A list of 'candidates' for sanctions will be established upon the adoption of the resolution.
16:25. The European Union is ready to offer Ukraine a program of economic assistance and program of reforms, announced MP Pyotr Poroshenko after a meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton.
'The EU is committed to stabilizing the situation in Ukraine and output to a qualitatively new level of negotiations between the people, the opposition and the government', reported Poroshenko's press service.
During the meeting Ashton said the EU this week will devote its work to Ukraine. In particular, on Thursday a meeting of the European Parliament will consider only Ukrainian question in order to form draft decisions and resolutions on Ukraine.
16:56. EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule after a debate on Ukraine in the European Parliament said that visits of European diplomats to Ukraine helped to avoid the worst developments in the country.
17:07. President Viktor Yanukovych has discussed questions on resolving the situation in Ukraine with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
'The sides discussed ways to stabilize the political situation in Ukraine, economic reforms and strengthening of democratic institutions. Specifically, they talked about the need to ensure the safety of citizens, ensure fair, transparent and impartial investigation into the events of the last resonant events, as well as prospects for constitutional reform', reported the presidential press service.
17:19. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk is ready to lead the Ukrainian government in case of the restoration of the constitution of 2004 and the formation of the Cabinet of Ministers exclusively of representatives of the opposition parties, told Yatseniuk in an interview to Deutsche Welle.
He also stressed that he was aware the riskiness of such a step. 'This is not about my political destiny, but the destiny of the country. I'm ready to lose rating to save the country', he said.
17:55. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Jeffrey Payette said that Washington may apply economic and visa sanctions against Ukraine if the authorities use force to resolve internal political conflict in the country.
Payette believes that U.S. Ambassador believes that further development of the situation depends on President Viktor Yanukovich.
18:00. The first 'Euromaidan' wedding has been held in the building of Kyiv State City Administration (KSCA) in the center of the capital.
Newlyweds Julia and Bogdan and met in the infirmary of the KSCA, and after a short time decided to get married. They are being crowned by priest. And they themselves call their wedding 'revolutionary'.
18:02. President Viktor Yanukovich dismissed the governor of Volyn region Boris Klimchuk. The corresponding decree was published on the website of the President.
By another decree Yanukovich appointed Alexander Bashkalenko as Chairman of the Volyn regional state administration.
Boris Klimchuk resigned on January 24 because of events on Euromaidan.
18:10. Viktor Yanukovich has commissioned Acting Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Arbuzov to serve as acting head of the Ukrainian government. The corresponding decree comes into force from the date of its publication.
18:16. Today four men in traditional costumes played Hutsul trembitas (alphorns) for the soldiers of internal troops and the protesters, who are guarding barricades on Hrushevskoho Street (pictures).
18:22. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will hold a debate on the situation in Ukraine at the winter session, which will be held on February 13-14 in Vienna. In particular, Ukrainian question will be discussed on February 14.
18:30. Exemption from criminal liability under the new law on amnesty concerns 259 people who have violated the public order during mass rallies in Kyiv in January 2014, stated Attorney General Victor Pshonka while talking to journalists.
18:43. European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule has urged the Ukrainian opposition to dissociate themselves from radical elements and condemned seizure of administrative buildings in Kyiv.
19:10. MEPs held a debate on the Ukrainian question, preparing for tomorrow's vote in favor of a special resolution on the situation in Ukraine. Thus, deputies came to the conclusion that Ukraine itself can't stop the crisis and Europe should help her avoid a civil war, in particular, by sending a constant mission to the country.
19:31. President Viktor Yanukovich has replaced heads of departments of the Security Service of Ukraine in four regions of Ukraine.
19:42. Russia does not press on Ukraine on the issue of association with the EU, but is interested in cooperation with Kyiv, stated President Vladimir Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
19:50. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says the EU is ready to participate in the investigation of clashes between security forces and radicals in Ukraine. The EU wants the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
20:16. The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union is ready to provide assistance to victims of police actions and 'titushki' (AntiMaidan activists, hired by the government) in all regions of Ukraine.
20:55. The opposition 'Batkivshchyna' faction MP Andrey Parubiy says that the situation on barricades on Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv is tense as the question of a return to the constitution of 2004 hasn't yet been resolved.
21:20. There are no reasons to revise the financial arrangements with Ukraine and there will never be, but rising debt of Kyiv on gas contracts raises concerns, stated Russian President's press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
21:45. Euromaidan commandant, 'Batkivshchyna' faction MP Andrey Parubiy said that tomorrow a column of opposition activists is going go picket the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with a demand of immediate solutions by Ukraine's parliament.
22:12. The constitutional act, which returns to effect Ukraine's constitution as amended in 2004, gathered 232 signatures of MPs, who are ready to vote in favor of the document, stated individual MP David Zhvania.
22:30. Individual MP Pyotr Poroshenko has urged President Viktor Yanukovich to withdraw all special forces from Kyiv. He believes they destabilize the situation in the capital.