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Ukrainian crisis: February 17 (live updates)

LB.ua chronicles the latest events in Ukraine in English for foreign readers.

Ukrainian crisis: February 17 (live updates)
Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv after the protesters have left
Фото: Макс Левин

Read previous news on the topic:

Ukrainian crisis: February 14

Ukrainian crisis: February 13

On Jan. 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 Jan. 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 were killed during two weeks of 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.

On Jan. 24 Euromaidan supporters started seizing buildings of regional state administration all over Ukraine. Some attempts were successful.

On Jan. 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.

On Jan. 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 Jan. 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.

Now the EU is considering 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.

The opposition, buoyed by Western expressions of support, pressed on Feb. 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.

So far the authorities and the opposition haven't managed to reach a compromise on a return to the constitution of 2004. Some activists still remain in custody, and Euromaidan protesters still occupy government building in Kyiv.

On Feb. 16 the Interior Ministry confirmed protesters have met all the conditions necessary to bring the amnesty law into effect. A conditional amnesty law that exempts detained protesters from criminal charges has been implemented on Feb. 17.

08:25. More than a hundred representatives of the movements 'KUPR', 'Narnia', 'The Vikings' and others have tried to capture the building of Kyiv City State Administration (KSCA) tonight, but Euromaidan self-defence forces prevented them from doing this.

The protesters explained their actions with unwillingness the building of KSCA to the authorities.

'Narnia' and 'The Vikings' near KSCA

08:37. The amnesty law has come into force. All cases opened during the period from December 27 to February 2, will be closed within a month.

09:00. Barricade outside the building housing Lvov Regional State Administration and Lvov Regional Council has been dismantled by utility workers. Thus, this institutions may continue their work.

Barricade outside the building housing Lvov Regional State Administration and Lvov Regional Council

09:59. Polish journalist Pyotr Andrusechko on Feb. 16 found ammunition casings from Polish, German, American and Czech production for 12 gauge shotguns in places where security forces stayed on Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv (pictures).

10:10. Euromaidan protesters are blocking cars from driving along Hrushevskoho Street due to the fact that law enforcers returned to their positions near barricades.

10:39. Police says it's going to prevent Euromaidan protesters from holding demonstration on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the building of the Verkhovna Rada in the district government in the centre of Kyiv, which is now blocked by policemen and internal troops.

10:47. Protested have completely vacated the building of KSCA.

11:14. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Western media hide from their readers a lot of facts about the events taking place in Ukraine. According to him, Russian media cover the events in Ukraine more objectively.

12:50. Today Euromaidan supporters held an action 'Ribbon of dignity' in Kyiv's Taras Shevchenko Park (pictures). According to LB.correspondent, activists deployed two 30-metres blue and yellow ribbons near the monument to Taras Shevchenko. After that activists handed national symbols to passers.

12:59. The Interior Ministry has declared wanted UMAN City Council lawmaker, member of the political council of the party 'Batkivschyna' Maxim Polyakov on suspicion of fraud committed on a large scale.

He is suspected of committing offences under Part 3. 190 of the Criminal Code (fraud committed on a large scale, or illegal transactions using electronic computers, is punishable by imprisonment for a term of three to eight years).

Moreover, on Feb. 15 the Party of Regions MP Anton Yatsenko said Maxim Polyakov ordered his murder. Polyakov's motive, according to Yatsenko, was that he had sent requests for criminal proceedings for misappropriation of shares of bakery 'Umanhleb', which allegedly involved Polyakov. Yatsenko believes that Polyakov also had another motive - he intended to become a member of the Verkhovna Rada.

13:16. The Party of Regions considers unacceptable the opposition's and Euromaidan activists' plan to march to the Verkhovna Rada's building on Tuesday, Feb. 18, reported the press service of the Regions Party.

13:32. Head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Klyuyev stated that he has no property in Austria. Thus, he said, the reports about AutoMaidan activists holding a protest near his house in Austria are untrue.

13:44. The Interior Ministry assures that law enforcement officers used only traumatic ammunition 'Teren-12H' and 'Teren-12K' with rubber bullets against the protesters on Hrushevskoho Street.

13:53. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Rybak hopes that President Viktor Yanukovich will over a candidacy of the new prime minister to the parliament later this week.

13:59. Parliament Speaker Vladimir Rybak at a press briefing has promised to register the decision on the mechanism of return to the constitution of 2004.

14:09. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius expects the Verkhovna Rada to make important decisions on Feb. 18.

14:20. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk has headed to Berlin for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and representatives of the ruling coalition.

14:24. The opposition explained why the parliament refused to accept the act of returning to the constitution of 2004 and said that it intends to register the draft decree 'On the resumption of the constitutional order'.

'The decision of the Constitutional Court stated that Ukraine returns to the basic law of 1996. That's why we choose the easiest and at the same time the constitutional way - on Monday we'll introduce a draft decision on the resumption of the constitutional order. We'll actually recognize that the constitution of 2004 has acted and keeps acting in the country', said the deputy head of the 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction Sergey Sobolev.

He noted that after the adoption of the document by 226 MPs votes, 77 laws must be changed - on the Cabinet, on the President, the Verkhovna Rada and others. 'And no one would be able to tell us that we adopt some constitutional acts. And then, when the constitution of 2004 comes into force again, we can create a temporary special commission to improve it', he stressed.

14:45. Head of Kyiv City State Administration Vladimir Makeenko hopes to begin full-scale operation of KSCA in 2-3 days. He also confirmed that he had no claims against the protesters, who occupied the building.

14:54. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk and leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko are planning to discuss the need to avoid bloodshed in Ukraine and ways of overcoming the political and economic crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Arseniy Yatseniuk told reporters about this at the airport before flying to Berlin, reported the press service of 'Batkivschyna'.

15:08. Ivano-Frankovsk Regional State Administration is returning to normal operation after Euromaidan protesters vacated its premises, told head of the press service of the Ivano-Frankovsk Regional Administration Sergey Biliy in his comments to journalists.

15:28. Acting Defence Minister Pavel Lebedev stated that his ministry interacts with the Interior Ministry, but does not interfere in the internal political processes in the country.

15:50. Utility workers are putting in order the section of Hrushevskoho Street were the violent confrontation between protesters and police unfolded during the last month.

16:11. Unidentified men damaged two monuments to Vladimir Lenin in Poltava region over the past day - one of the monuments was decapitated, and the second one was doused with paint.

16:19. Individual MP Anatoly Gritsenko at a press conference stated that he can nominate his candidacy for President in the next elections if the opposition doesn't choose a single candidate.

17:17. Euromaidan activists have vacated the buildings of Chernovtsi Regional State Administration and Regional Council, said chairman of Chernovtsi regional organization 'Svoboda', member of the Presidium of the National Rada in Bukovina Vitaliy Melnychuk.

17:30. Prosecutor's office in Zaporozhye, Nikolayev and Volyn regions began to fulfill the requirements of the law for exemption of Euromaidan activists from criminal liability, reported the press service of the the General Prosecutor's Office.

17:39. President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has stated that the EU is ready to sign the Association Agreement with Ukraine as soon as the political crisis in the country ends. He also added that Kyiv shouldn't have any additional requirements.

17:53. Students organizations intend to take part in tomorrow's 'peace offensive' to the Verkhovna Rada's building with a demand to adopt a new constitution.

All-Ukrainian Union 'Maidan' calls on all concerned to join the 'peace offensive'.

18:24. It'll take two weeks to restore KSCA's building after it's been vacated by the protesters, reported the press service of KSCA.

18:58. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that the U.S. is trying to impose 'Western vector' of development as 'the only right' for Ukraine.

19:13. Leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin has asked her to block all suspicious bank transfers of Ukrainian officials.

19:36. The 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement announced the mobilization of its units in connection with a 'peace offensive' to the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday.

20:07. Leader of the ruling Party of Regions faction Alexandr Yefremov urged not to aggravate the situation in the economy of the country by actions towards a return of the constitution of 2004.

He also accused opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk of saying things contrary to those he says today' during his speakership and running for the presidency.

20:13. Kyiv district court in Simferopol has condemned to four years of jail imprisonment (suspended) an IT-specialist accused of blocking the operation of the site of the regional branch of the Party of Regions, reported the press service of the Prosecutor of Crimea.

The IT-specialist was also denied to hold positions in the area of IT-technologies for three years.

20:31. The Prosecutor's Office announced the closure of five criminal cases against suspects in the capture of the regional state administration's building in Ivano-Frankovsk region, reported the press service of the Prosecutor's Office.

20:43. Western partners are ready to provide financial assistance to Ukraine, 'but not for a corrupt Cabinet, but for a new Ukrainian government', stated 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk at a press conference in Berlin at the end of a joint meeting with the leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

21:53. Ukraine needs a transparent relationship with Russian partners, stated 'Batkivschyna' chairman Arseniy Yatsenyuk at a briefing in Germany, reported the press service of the party. According to him, the opposition seeks 'pro-European and pro-Ukrainian politics'.

22:11. The most important thing now is adopting a political agreement between all the political forces in the country, rather than the composition of the government and the candidacy of Prime Minister, stated Chairman of Donetsk Regional State Administration Andrey Shishatskiy.

22:27. Chairman of the political council of the 'Batkivschyna' party Arseniy Yatsenyuk and leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko have discussed the situation in Ukraine with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

According to the press service of 'Batkivschyna', the main issue on the agenda was 'how to avoid violence and bloodshed' in Ukraine.

'From the government and the current president depends if they would do the real action to overcome the political and economic crisis', stressed Yatsenyuk .

The politician said that in order to overcome the political crisis in Ukraine, it is necessary to move from a presidential to a parliamentary-presidential form of government.

'We demand from the government for the parliament tj adopt a special law which makes Ukraine a democratic state with a parliamentary-presidential form of government', concluded Yatsenyuk.

22:43. On Monday police found four system blocks, five monitors and keyboard with the accession numbers of the Kyiv City State Administration in Gusyatinsky district of Ternopol region, reported the Office of Public Relations of the Interior Ministry.

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