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Ukrainian crisis: February 25 (live updates)

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Ukrainian crisis: February 25 (live updates)
Euromaidan self-defence
Фото: Макс Левин

Read previous news on the topic:

Ukrainian crisis: February 18

Ukrainian crisis: February 24

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.

In the evening of Feb. 24 most of the ministers under Yanukoivch were dismissed.

08:21. Election campaign for snap presidential elections has started on Tuesday.

08:35. Cherkassy governor Tulub has been declared wanted for misappropriation of state property in especially large sizes.

08:52. Euromaidan activists from 'Circle of public confidence' have demanded to prohibit people from the list of 100 richest people of Ukraine to get positions in the government.

09:09. The Interior Ministry has appointed new Traffic Police Chief and Kyiv's Police Chief.

09:27. Russia's LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that members of Ukrainian music groups, who supported anti-Russian stance, should be prohibited from touring in Russia.

09:38. Leader of the party 'Fair Russia' Sergey Mironov suggested to provide Russian citizenship on a simplified conditions to all interested Ukrainians, and especially to 'Berkut' riot police fighters.

09:51. Civil movement the 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') condemned the pressure on families of law enforcers, who participated in AntiEuromaidan events.

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