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Ukrainian crisis: February 24 (live updates)

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

Ukrainian crisis: February 24 (live updates)
The House of Trade Unions in the centre of Kyiv
Фото: Макс Левин

Read previous news on the topic:

Ukrainian crisis: February 18

Ukrainian crisis: February 17

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.

On Feb. 18-20 gun battles between police and anti-government protesters resulted in the death toll of 82 people (some of them died from wounds in the following days). In the evening of Feb.19 Viktor Yanukovich said he had agreed firstly a truce and secondly 'the start to negotiations with the aim of ending bloodshed, and stabilizing the situation in the state in the interests of social peace'. Earlier in the day, riot police snipers were captured on video shooting from a rooftop at demonstrators in the central plaza, Independence Square. In turn, protesters hurled petrol bombs and paving stones to drive the security forces off a corner of the square the police had captured in battles that began two days earlier.

On Feb. 21 Ukraine's parliament voted in favor of returning to the constitution of 2004 under which President Viktor Yanukovich would lose some of his powers. Russian-backed Yanukovich fled Kyiv by helicopter.

On Feb. 22 deputy chairman of 'Batkivshchyna' opposition faction Alexander Turchinov, hositle to Yanukovich, was appointed Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada. Later in the day the parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich, declaring him constitutionally unable to carry out his duties, after three months of street protests, while his arch-rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko hailed opposition demonstrators as 'heroes' in an emotional speech in Kyiv after she was released from jail. Moreover the assembly called a presidential election for May 25.

On the same day President Viktor Yanukovich compared the situation in Ukraine to Germany in the 1930s, when Nazi leader Adolf Hitler came to power. 63-year-old leader said he was ignoring the vote and still considered himself head of state. Later he abandoned Kyiv to the opposition and denounced what he described as a coup. Then Ukraine's border authorities said it had refused to allow President Viktor Yanukovich to leave the country. Some armed men had tried to bribe border staff at Donetsk airport in the east of the country to allow the charter flight to take off, but they had refused. Thus, Yanukovich subsequently got off the plane and left in a waiting car.

As of Feb. 24 fugitive President Viktor Yanukovich is wanted on an arrest warrant for mass murder. His whereabouts remain unknown. Some members of the Party of Regions and criminal regime supporters fled the country. Also, cash-strapped Ukraine appealed for urgent financial assistance to prevent a default, saying it needed $35 billion over two years to stop the economy 'heading into the abyss'.

Kyiv's chances of receiving the remaining $12 billion of a $15-billion bailout package agreed with Russia in December, after Ukraine spurned an EU trade deal, seem to have receded since Moscow, which backed Yanukovich, says it won't release the next $2-billion tranche until it knows who will be in the government. It also says any extension of a deal cutting the price Kyiv pays for Russian gas (part of December's wider financial deal) - must be negotiated with Ukrainian companies and the government.

16:30. There was a skirmish while trying to arrest ex-president Viktor Yanukovich in the territory of the Crimean autonomy, reports LB.ua citing its own sources.

According to available information, men from Yanukovich's convoy tried to prevent his arrest, and started shooting. A few people could be wounded. It's also possible that there are dead.

However, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov hasn't confirmed the firefight.

16:44. Russian Foreign Ministry is concerned that an agreement on resolving the crisis in Ukraine from February 21 hasn't been satisfied. Moscow has called Euromaidan activists 'militant thugs and militants'.

17:07. A memorial service for the fallen heroes is being held on Kyiv's Independence Square. A lot of people came to the country's main square with flowers and the lamps.

17:07. The Verkhovna Rada has adopted a draft decree number 4076, which provides dismissal of President of the Constitutional Court and four judges for violation of the oath. 307 MPs supported the decision.

17:16. Ukraine's parliament has made changes to the state budget for 2014 and has allocated almost two billion UAH for the presidential elections in Ukraine. 352 MPs voted in favor of the the bill number 4229.

17:30. The Verkhovna Rada has dismissed the head of the National Bank Igor Sorkin. After that 310 MPs supported appointment of lawmaker Stepan Kubiv ('Batkivschyna' opposition faction) to his position.

17:40. Ukraine's parliament has appointed Valentin Nalyvaychenko ('UDAR' faction) as head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). 333 MPs voted for the adoption of the draft decree number 4246. He had headed SBU from December 2006 to March 2010.

17:44. The Verkhovna Rada has appointed Oleg Mahnitskiy ('Svoboda' faction) as Prosecutor General of Ukraine. 312 MPs voted in support of the adoption of the draft resolution 4256.

17:46. Ukraine's parliament has dismissed Natalia Korolevskaya from the post of Minister of Social Policy. 319 MPs supported draft resolution 4222.

17:50. The Verkhovna Rada has dismissed Leonid Novohatko from the post of Minister of Culture. 288 MPs voted in favor of relevant draft resolution.

17:58. Investigators have begun working on Instytutska Street in Kyiv, where riot police had killed Euromaidan activists.

17:58. The Verkhovna Rada has re-voted draft decree on dismissal of Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Dmytriy Tabachnik. 249 MPs supported his dismissal.

18:03. Ukraine's parliament voted for release of 'political prisoners', in particular, Dmitry and Sergey Pavlichenko, who had been accused of killing Kyiv's judge Zubkov, and another 20 men.

Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Aleksandr Turchynov, when placing corresponding resolution to the vote, said a lot of football fans have gathered near the parliament's building, and 'the situation is quite tense'.

18:06. The Verkhovna Rada has adjourned its work until 10:00 on February 25.

18:42. Central Election Commission head Mikhail Ohendovsky stated that there are no obstacles to the nomination of Yulia Tymoshenko's candidacy for the presidential elections.

18:50. Information for those who want to help the families of the victims: contact details and bank accounts of their relatives (link).

18:58. Greece, presiding in the European Union, offered to host an international conference dedicated to addressing the economic problems of Ukraine in order to avoid default in the country.

19:17. Kharkov region Governor Mikhail Dobkin will run for the presidency of Ukraine at early elections.

20:31. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has accepted proposal by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on holding a treatment at the clinic 'Charité'.

20:50. TV Channel '1 +1' appealed to the Security Service of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General's Office about repeated cases of threats and physical violence against its journalists and cameramen, says an open letter of the journalists.

21:14. AutoMaidan activist Dmitry Bulatov, who was kidnapped and tortured in January, then completed his treatment in Lithuania and went to Germany, has returned home since the situation to Ukraine.

21:24. The Party of Regions faction to decide on a candidate for presidency of Ukraine on the following Saturday, March 1, stated the Regions Party MP Anna Herman on the sidelines of the Verkhovna Rada.

21:44. Suspect in murder of journalist of the newspaper 'Vesti' Vyacheslav Veremei has been detained, stated individual MP Pyotr Poroshenko.

'The one who killed journalist near St. Michael Square has already been arrested', he said.

On Feb. 19 late in the evening in Kyiv unidentified men with bats and guns, helmets, camouflage and black masks attacked journalist Vyacheslav Veremei and IT specialist Alexei Lymarenko.

21:52. Sevastopol City Council created an executive body - municipal government to ensure city's life. Russian citizen Alexey Chaly will create the regulations of the executive committee.

22:18. House of the Communist Party leader Pyotr Simonenko has been set on fire by unidentified men. Simonenko's wife reported that they wanted to blow up the house. Currently fire brigade is working at the scene.

22:40. U.S. is ready to participate in the financial support to Ukraine and will welcome the allocation of aid by the International Monetary Fund, But the format of possible assistance has not yet been defined, announced White House spokesman Jay Carney.

22:52. In Kharkov, in an underground passage to subway station 'Universitet' clashes have occurred between supporters and opponents of Euromaidan.

Opposition activists said they had been attacked by people in sportswear with sticks and St. George's ribbons on the clothes. As a result, two activists were injured.

23:06. Political landing from Russia has landed in Simferopol. Russia's delegation is headed by Leonid Slutsky, head of the committee on CIS affairs. He was met by members of the Supreme Council of Crimea Sergey Aksenov and Sergey Tsekov (fraction 'Russian unity'), reported Crimean journalist Oleg Kryuchkov in his Facebook.

23:18. Kyiv's City council secretary Galina Gerega, who wrote a letter of resignation earlier today, has left the territory of Ukraine on her private plane, stated 'Svoboda' representative Alexander Aronets in social networks, citing sources in the Border Guard.

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