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 now, after the visit of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to Ukraine, when she met with President Viktor Yanukovich and leaders of the opposition, 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.
08:51. On Thursday, February 6 the European Parliament will vote on a joint resolution of six EP factions on the situation in Ukraine. The document consists of 22 points.
The resolution urges countries and EU institutions to take 'immediate action', including the establishment of increased diplomatic pressure and the introduction of personal measures (in particular, freezing assets and property) of 'all officials and lawmakers of Ukraine and their business sponsors (oligarchs)' responsible for the deaths of protesters in the country.
Seven versions of the resolution on Ukraine have been registered by the European Parliament.
'I think this is not an idea, but an obvious need. There will be permanent confrontatioт within rigid unitary state. To stop it, federalization is needed', said Glazyev.
09:43. President Viktor Yanukovych has wished Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka a long and happy life, energy and health on the occasion of the 60th anniversary. He also thanked Pshonka for his dedication to the Ukrainian government.
10:06. A number of riot police employees has increased in the government quarter in the centre of Kyiv, near the building of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Shelcovichna Street is being blocked by two rows of buses with police officers and 'Berkut' riot police fighters, they are in full ammunition, with shields and helmets.
10:10. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Rybak has opened the morning session of the parliament. 400 MPs registered in the session hall.
At this morning's meeting MPs are planning to consider a draft resolution on the establishment of a temporary committee on preparation and approval of the draft law amending the constitution of Ukraine concerning the return to a parliamentary-presidential form of government.
10:29. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine hasn't yet registered a single bill on constitutional reform, stated Vladimir Rybak during the session of the Verkhovna Rada.
11:00. Known expert on international relations, head of Russian edition of Deutsche Welle Ingo Mannteufel stated that the best way to resolve the 'Ukrainian problem' is the creation of a free trade area between the European Union and the Russian Federation, where Ukraine will find its own place. https://lb.ua/news/2014/02/06/254486_razreshit_ukrainskiy_krizis.html
11:03. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk has stated that the opposition has prepared a draft of a new constitution and offered to vote for it in the Verkhovna Rada.
11:16. The opposition and individual deputies gathered 160 signatures for the resignation from office of the first vice-speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Igor Kaletnik, told reporters MP Vitor Timoshenko.
11:22. A column of two thousand Euromaidan activists, which earlier today headed to the Verkhovna Rada in the government quarter, has returned to Hrushevskoho Street.
At the same time supporters of the authorities continue holding a rally on Constitution Square in front of a building of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
11:27. The Security Service of Ukraine has opened criminal proceedings against former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko on suspicion of attempted change of constitutional order in Ukraine, reported the civil movement 'Third Ukrainian Republic', headed by Lutsenko.
11:50. The 'Ukrainian Galician Assembly' public organization and its partners have promised a reward of $100 thousand for information that'll help find and convict the murderers of Euromaidan activists Yuriy Verbitsky and Roman Senik. The first of them was tortured and killed, his body was found in a forest near Kyiv. The second one was shot on Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv.
12:05. Deputy Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland on Thursday has arrived with a two-day visit to Ukraine in order to meet with the opposition leaders and the Ukrainian authorities.
12:12. Parliament Speaker Vladimir Rybak has closed the morning session of Parliament, the evening session won't be hold.
'At a meeting in the office of the Verkhovna Rada head, we discussed the possible consideration of amendments to the constitution of Ukraine. Leaders of the factions in the parliament refused to create a special commission to amend the constitution', said Rybak.
According to him, the faction leaders have declared that they themselves can prepare amendments to the constitution, and they need a couple of days for this.
12:42. The opposition bill on amendments to the constitution of Ukraine has been passed to all parliamentary factions and on Tuesday, February 11, the opposition is ready to vote for it, stated 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk.
'On the first day they put me on the floor, closed my nose and opened my mouth to put a wet rag in it. They beat me and I was choking. After the first torture I told them what they wanted to know', said Bulatov during a press conference.
'The interrogations started from the first day. They beat me not too much, but is was very painful. As someone who's a lot into sports, I can say that professionals beat me. Very hard, very painful. They wondered who gives money for AutoMaidan and how much money gave American Ambassador, who gives commands and what kind of relationship I have with American Embassy. I was accused of being American spy', he stressed.
'All the conversations were recorded on camera. This continued every day. They told me that the U.S. Ambassador gave me a lot of money and wanted to know where I hid them', said Bulatov. According to him, the kidnappers were also interested in a trip to Mezhigorie (President Viktor Yanukovich's private residence), as well as to homes of (Interior Minister) Vitali Zaharchenko, (Prosecutor General) Viktor Pshonka and (Ukrainian politician) Viktor Medvedchuk.
He noted that his kidnappers were asking him the same questions all the time, but in other words.
'I defined days by the food that they gave me. They gave me baked ham, a slice in a vacuum-pack and water. Water was technical, with a smell of sewage. A room, where I was, also smelled some rags. I had a feeling I'm in some kind of boiler room', said Dmitry.
Furthermore, he added that only two men came into the room all the time, though there were a lot more people on the street behind the door.
'One time I tried to raise glasses to see them. I was beaten very badly. They beat on the head very much. Thereafter tortures intensified. Put a bag on my head. Fastened my hands behind the back with handcuffs, tied my feet and tied my hands to them. They beat me with sticks, but not wooden, made of something soft. They beat me so hard that I thought my bones have mixed with the brain. I do not know how much time this was going on, but I felt nothing worse in my life', said Bulatov.
'There was a feeling that they were pouring metal on my face. I only wanted it to stop. They forced me to speak on camera, that I was a spy of America, the CIA, that I was specifically hired to organize AutoMaidan in order to create the unrest. I said everything they wanted after such tortures. Interrogations continued all the time', he added.
Moreover, he said that while his kidnappers were threatening to gouge out his eyes, they cut his cheek.
'Blood flowed from it constantly. They spread a plastic sheets on the ground for me to lie on them. So that myo blood wouldn't flow to the floor', added Bulatov.
'Another torture was when they said that they'll cut my ear. They cut one piece, I didn't feel how big it was. Afterwards, they touched my forehead with this piece and it was very scary. It seemed that they didn't believe me. I said what they wanted to hear, and even lied. I said that I was given $50 thousand for gasoline for AutoMaidan', confessed Bulatov.
On the last day of Bulatov being with his kidnappers, they, according to him, crucified him on the door.
'On the last day they put me on my knees and told me to put my hands on a wooden door. Said they would beat them with nails. Said that they could nail me without touching the tendons. They nailed my hands with mails or something to the door. While doing this they beat me with a stick, each time in the same place, it was very painful. I felt so bad and scared that I asked them to kill me, because I couldn't suffer that enduring pain no longer', said AutoMaidan founder.
13:07. Leader of the Regions Party Alexander Yefremov stated that President Viktor Yanukovich, who fell ill last week, has already recovered. He also wished Ukrainian journalists to be as healthy as their President.
13:09. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has stated that the problems with customs clearance of Ukrainian goods on the Russian border has already been resolved.
13:23. The Party of Regions believes that a new constitution can be accepted no earlier than in September 2014, stated leader of the Regions Party Alexander Yefremov.
13:32. The foreign Ministry has appointed a forensic expertise on the beating of AutoMaidan coordinator Dmitry Bulatov, told Bulatov himself during a press conference.
He also told about the financing of AutoMaidan.
'At first there was a group of people who financed it with their own money. I used my money until I could. Then we announced the fund-raising to help us, among the common people. This is completely legal, we can then publish a report that it's all transparent. I refused to help politicians. We were helped by various funds, including international', said Bulatov.
13:43. The European Parliament calls on the European Union to impose visa and financial sanctions against Ukrainian officials and businessmen responsible for the use of violence against protesters in Ukraine. The resolution was supported by the European Parliament at a meeting on Thursday, the project was registered yesterday, on February 5.
13:58. Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Olympic Games in Sochi can meet with the leadership of Georgia and Ukraine, stated Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
14:13. The situation on the Ukrainian currency market is directly dependent on political events in the country. Once another escalation of the conflict happens between the authorities and the opposition - rate increases sharply, but after a couple of days it begins to subside and fall, stated CEO of investment banking company 'European Capital Management' Vadim Brailovsky.
14:22. Police reported about severely wounded a man who allegedly opened a box in the House of Trade Unions in the centre of Kyiv, and then there was an explosion, says a statement on a website of the Interior Ministry. According to medics, the victim is unconscious because of a head injury he received.
14:32. Financial aid package, which is now being prepared for Ukraine by representatives of the European Commission together with the IMF won't be unconditional, and can cause social tensions.
'The decision necessary for cooperation with the on raising the price of gas for the population is of political nature and no technical government can solve it', said Igor Burakovsky, director of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting.
14:52. The explosion at the House of Trade Unions, which resulted in the injured (Euromaidan) activist, occurred at around 9:00 am on Thursday, when unknown smuggled explosives into the building in a package labeled 'Drugs'.
'There was an explosive device in a package labeled drugs', said Euromaidan activist Anatoly Vedmid at a press conference at the headquarters of the National Resistance.
15:03. The investigation into the beating of journalist Tatiana Chornovol has been completed, announced Deputy Prosecutor General Roman Andreev at a press briefing.
According to him, Euromaidan activist Tatiana Chornovol was attacked of hooliganism for cutting in front of a car on a road.
Andreev said that this version was confirmed by the testimony of witnesses, victims, suspects and materials from Chronovol's DVR.
Deputy Prosecutor General noted that two suspects - Roman Zalyubovskii and Sergey Kotenkowere - arrested. The third suspect, Andrey Zinchenko, was arrested in Moscow, and now his extradition is being discussed. Another two suspects haven't been established.
The General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine will ask for four years in jail for the suspect into Chornovol's brutal beating.
15:28. Anti-government protesters aren't going to dismantle barricades on Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv and vacate administrative buildings, stated commandant of the House of Trade Unions, MP Andrei Parubiy.
15:51. Head of the Main Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry Nikolai Chinchin admit that the suspects Igor Alexander, Alexander and Andrew Hramtsov Nasikovsky may have nothing to do with the beating of journalist Tatiana Chornovol, stated Deputy Attorney General Roman Andreev at a press briefing.
At the same time, the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine has announced that the case against the three suspects was allocated in a separate criminal proceeding. He also stressed that the arrest of the three suspects was justified, since there was a need for this for the investigation.
16:15. Debacle of restaurants in Kyiv tonight, staged by unidentified men in the outfit similar to the one worn by Euromaidan self-defence is another provocation by the authorities, stated commandant of the House of Trade Unions, MP Stepan Kubiv at a press briefing, reported the press service of 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction. l
'Pay attention to internet pictures of these people. They look like posturing, boasting that they destroyed business in Kyiv', said Kubiv. In his opinion, the most important thing revealing the true identities of the provocateurs is their shoes.
'These people wear sneakers, which neither representatives of self-defense, nor representatives of other groups or people who come to Euromaidan wear. Sneakers confirmed that it was a provocation carried out using 'titushki' (AntiMaidan activists - ed.), said the commandant.
Tonight unidentified men smashed two restaurants. Thus, they broke windows, door and removed the flag of Ukraine and took him with them from 'Opanas' restaurant, and smashed windows in Mai Tai Lounge restaurant. There were no people there at that moment.
According to the witnesses, the young men said they didn't belong to any political party and were nationalists.
16:28. The Interior Ministry has reported that another victim, probably injured in the blast in the House of Trade Unions, was delivered to a hospital.
According to preliminary information, the victim is a 15-year-old resident of Lvov region with thermal burns of eyes of the third degree.
16:45. The Interior Ministry reported that this morning a man with a gunshot wound to his foot was brought to a hospital. According to him, he ensured the protection of Kyiv State City Administration's (KSCA) building, occupied by Euromaidan activists, and was injured by other guards when he refused to wear the guard's uniform.
According to the ministry, after receiving gunshot wound the man was brought to another part of Kyiv by taxi, where he went unconscious. He regained consciousness in the hospital.
16:51. 'Insurance companies have no right to refuse payment of compensation to motorists on the basis of alleged rebellion or riots happening in the country', says a report of the National Financial Services, which reminds that the events in the Ukrainian streets are classified as a peaceful protest.
Thus, corresponding resolutions number 12, 13 and 14 were adopted on January 22, 2014. They allow to restrict the freedom of movement of citizens, use water cannons even when the air temperature is below zero degrees, as well as use more powerful gas, light and sound grenades.
17:22. The Foreign Ministry stated that the European Parliament's resolution on the situation in Ukraine, adopted on Thursday, is biased and unbalanced. However, the ministry is pleased with the money initiatives it provides.
17:46. Journalist Tatyana Chornovol said that the results of the investigation into here beating were biased. In her blog on the 'Ukrainskaya Pravda' ('Ukrainian Truth'), she stated that the reason for 'attempt' (on her life) was not her cutting in front of a car, but 'cutting in front' of President Viktor Yanukovich.
17:53. President Viktor Yanukovich at a meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has promised that in the nearest future measures will be taken to accelerate the release of detained during Euromaidan demonstrations. The president also said that he he favors a speedy reform of the constitution.
17:58. Supporters of sanctions against Ukraine have hinted European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, who sees no sense in such drastic measures on his 'possible collaboration with the Russian special services', wrote leader of the "Ukrainian choice' Viktor Medvechuk in his blog.
'It's Ridiculous, but a few weeks ago they (supporters of sanctions - ed.) looked at the Commissioner as on a savior, waiting for his visits, had hoped that he did convince the Ukrainian government to sign an Association Agreement, which is still 'on the table', stressed Medvedchuk.
'A little more bit more and they'll start blaming Stefan Fule in handing over of interests of European integration, and even in promoting the integration with the eastern vector', concluded the 'Ukrainian choice' leader.
18:08. First deputy head of the Presidential Administration Andrey Portnov at a meeting with the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks said that the Ukrainian authorities are ready for an international investigation into what is happening in Ukraine.
Portnov says he wants an adequate assessment of the actions of the authorities and the protesters.
18:19. President Viktor Yanukovich on February 6-7 will pay a working visit to the Russian Federation, reported the presidential press service.
18:37. The Party of Regions MP Vladimir Vecherko confirmed that his daughter Victoria has dual citizenship - Swiss and Ukrainian. In response to a remark of journalists that Ukrainian law prohibits dual citizenship, he said: 'She simply hasn't been deprived of the Ukrainian citizenship'.
A little bit later, journalist Dmitry Hnap asked Vecherko to comment on the information that his father in law, 'regional' Yefim Zvyagilskiy and Viktor Yanukovich's elder son Alexander 'shared' nine gas bearing areas. However Vecherko started getting nervous, said that he knows nothing, and went off the air.