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Ukrainian crisis: February 27 (live updates)

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

Ukrainian crisis: February 27 (live updates)
Pro-Russia separatists and supporters of Ukraine's new leaders
Фото: EPA/UPG

Read previous news on the topic: Ukrainian crisis: February 25

Ukrainian crisis: February 26

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 83 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 Yanukovшch were dismissed.

On Feb. 26 ousted President Viktor Yanukovich has been put on the international wanted list. At the same time, thousands of pro-Russia separatists tussled with supporters of Ukraine's new leaders in Crimea. About 5000 people, most of them ethnic Tatars (the indigenous group on the Black Sea peninsula), converged on the parliament building to support Euromaidan. They were met by pro-Russia demonstrators who bellowed loyalty to Moscow and denounced the 'bandits' who had seized power in the Ukrainian capital.

Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula attached to the rest of Ukraine by a narrow strip of land, is the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority, and a home to Russia's Black Sea fleet. Tensions are mounting in the regional capital Simferopol as separatists try to exploit the chaos after the changes in Kyiv to press demands for Russia to reclaim the territory which Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev gifted in 1954 to the Soviet Ukraine.

Also, on Feb. 26 Russia's Foreign Ministry said that 'Ukrainian extremists are 'imposing their will' and whipping up religious tension in Ukraine, where there are deep-seated rivalries between Orthodox Christian churches'. Concurrently President Vladimir Putin ordered the Defense Ministry to carry out a comprehensive review of sudden readiness of the Western and Central military districts, as well as a number of branches located on the border with Ukraine. Also, Ukraine's protest leaders named the ministers they want to form a new government.

In the morning of Feb. 27 armed men seized the government buildings in the capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region and hoisted a Russian flag over a barricade. The identities of the men in the buildings in the regional capital of Simferopol were not immediately known and they issued no demands.

08:35. Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has said that the Ukrainian parliament made a mistake by abolishing the law on language government policy' 'cause 'rights of ethnic minorities must be provided'.

09:02. Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said that in connection with the seizure of the building of the Supreme Council of Crimea in Simferopol by men armed with automatic weapons and machine guns, troops and internal troops of the entire composition of the police have been raised on alarm.

10:10. The Verkhovna Rada has resumed work. The Cabinet appointment was listed as last item on the agenda.

10:14. Ukraine said on Thursday it would regard any movements by Russian military in Crimea outside the Russian Black Sea fleet's base in Sevastopol as an act of aggression.

Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Acting President Aleksandr Turchynov, who is also the head of Ukraine's armed forces, appealed for Moscow to adhere to the rules of an agreement which allows Russia's Black Sea fleet to be based in Sevastopol until 2042.

10:35. Invaders of the Crimean parliament said they would let speaker of the Crimean parliament and legally elected MPs enter the building, reported Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, since Ukrainian journalists are being blocked there.

10:57. A convoy of seven armored unmarked vehicles stopped near village Ukromnoe (Crimea), and then turned back and headed away from Simferopol (pictures).

11:08. The Crimean Parliament's building and the Supreme Council had been seized by 120 well-trained and armed men, stated the Verkhovna Rada MP, former head of the Council of Ministers of autonomy Sergey Kunitsyn.

11:14. The Security Service of Ukraine has begun an investigation into the seizure of the Crimean parliament's building on Karl Marx Street and the Supreme Council of Crimea on Kirov Avenue in Simferopol, stated the press service of the Prosecutor General.

11:41. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry summoned Russia's acting envoy in Kyiv on Thursday and called for immediate consultations with Moscow following the seizure of the regional government and parliament buildings in Crimea.

11:53. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has urged Russia not to aggravate the situation in Crimea.

11:59. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Acting President Aleksandr Turchynov and 'Batkivschyna' faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk won't participate in the presidential elections, said Yatseniuk on the sidelines of the parliament.

12:00. Russian news agencies quoted a statement by Yanukovich as saying he had asked Moscow to guarantee his personal safety.

12:02. Viktor Yanukovich said on Thursday he was still the legitimate president of his country and that people in its south-eastern and southern regions would never accept the 'lawlessness' brought by leaders chosen by a mob of Euromaidan supporters in Kyiv.

12:13. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich will be secure in the territory of the Russian Federation, reported the Russian state agency ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti news agency, citing a source in the government of the Russian Federation.

12:30. Yesterday, Feb. 26th, late in the evening in the hotel 'Ukraine' on Kutuzov Avenue in Moscow local residents saw a man very similar to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, reports LB.ua citing eyewitnesses. According to them, he was accompanied by ex-Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka.

12:38. Unidentified masked men have captured archives of the Ministry of Justice. They are trying to remove the archives department, stated candidate for the post of Minister of Justice Pavel Petrenko.

12:46. The Verkhovna Rada on Thursday called early mayor elections in 26 cities, including Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson and Chernovtsi, says a statement on the website of the parliament.

13:17. The Verkhovna Rada has registered a parliamentary group 'Sovereign European Ukraine'.

13:09. Russian Foreign Ministry will continue to uphold the rights of its fellow citizens, says its statement in Twitter.

13:29. The European Parliament has called for a snap parliamentary elections in Ukraine asap after the presidential elections and not later than the end of 2014.

13:37. 'Batkivschyna' faction MP, Police General Gennady Moskal has stated that disbanded 'Berkut' riot police employees are involved in capture of the government buildings in Crimea.

13:42. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Acting President Aleksandr Turchynov announced the formation of a parliamentary coalition 'European choice'.

13:57. Presidium of the Supreme Council of Crimea wants the Supreme Council of Crimea to hold a referendum.

14:03. 'Batkivschyna' faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk has promised to take all necessary measures to protect Ukraine's citizens.

14:06. Candidate for the post of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called on participants of the Budapest Memorandum 1994 (Russia, U.S. and UK) to guarantee the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

14:11. The newly appointed government of Ukraine will start its work with unpopular decisions that are unlikely to be welcomed by the Ukrainians, stated Arseniy Yatsenyuk, speaking from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada.

14:14. $70 billion were brought into offshore under Viktor Yanukovich's rule, stated Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

14:20. The Ministry of Revenue and fees must be eliminated, stated Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

14:32. Ukraine expects that Russia won't support Viktor Yanukovich, wanted on an arrest warrant for mass murder, stressed Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

14:36. Problems in the financial market of Ukraine are linked with two main reasons: reduction of foreign exchange reserves and fall of deposits in banks.

14:38. Ukraine will appeal to the Russian Federation on the extradition of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, announced today on the sidelines of the parliament candidate for the position of First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Vitaly Yarema.

14:50. 'Batkivschyna' faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk has been approved by the Verkhovna Rada as the Prime Minister of Ukraine. His candidacy was supported by 371 MPs.

14:54. Ukrainian MPs supported the decision on dismissal of the previous Cabinet of Ministers.

14:59. The European Union believes that Aleksandr Turchynov is legitimate acting President of Ukraine, stated official European Commission President Olivier Bailly at a briefing in Brussels.

15:11. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has approved the Cabinet of Ministers proposed by newly elected Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk with 331 votes. Thus:

First Deputy Prime Minister - Vitaly Yarema. Will be responsible for law enforcement and security unit.

Vice Prime Minister for European Integration - Boris Tarasyuk.

Vice Prime Minister - Alexander Sych.

Deputy Prime Minister of Regional Policy, Construction and Housing - Vladimir Groisman (Vinnytsia Mayor).

Minister of the Cabinet - Ostap Semerak.

Minister of Health - Oleg Musiy, who 'pulled the wounded, led the medical service at the Maidan for 90 days and nights. Saved thousands of people', said Yatsenyuk.

Interior Minister - Arsen Avakov.

Minister of Infrastructure - Maxim Bourbaki.

Finance Minister - Alexander Shlapak, who has vast experience in the system of government, former Minister of Economy.

Minister of Social Policy - Lyudmila Denisova (head of the same Ministry in times of Yulia Tymoshenko).

Minister of Justice - Pavel Petrenko. 'The man who walked for days and nights on the courts and people stretched from prison', stressed Yatsenyuk.

Minister of Culture - Eugeniy Nischuk, honored artist of Ukraine.

Minister of Economic Development and Trade - Pavel Sheremet, president of the Kyiv School of Economics.

Minister of Ecology - Andrey Mohnyk.

Minister of Youth and Sport - Dmitry Bulatov (AutoMaidan leader).

Minister of Fuel and Energy - Yuriy Prodan.

Minister of Education - Sergey Kvit.

Minister of Agrarian Policy - Igor Schweich.

15:16. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has approved Admiral Igor Tenyukh as Acting Minister of Defence. Also Rada approved Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, diplomat Andrey Deshchytsa.

15:18. Today at a special meeting the Supreme Council of Crimea will consider two questions, said Chairman of the Crimean parliament Vladimir Konstantinov.

These questions are All-Crimean referendum on May 25 to expand the powers of the Crimean parliament, and the question about the economic situation in the Crimea and government reports, he said.

Vladimir Konstantinov

15:32. The Verkhovna Rada has adjourned its work until 10:00 am Friday, Feb. 28.

15:45. U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Heygel assured Kyiv in Washington's support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

15:50. Newly elected Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk held a long conversation with the leadership of the U.S. and asked Washington to actively influence Russia in the context of the situation in the Ukraine.

15:57. Ukraine expects to receive $15 billion from the International Monetary Fund under the new credit program, told reporters newly appointed Minister of Finance Alexander Shlapak.

15:58. Former adviser to Viktor Yanukovich, Anna German doubts the authenticity of alleged statement by Viktor Yanukovich published by Russian media today that he remained legitimate president of Ukraine and asked Russia for help. She urged Yanukovich not to be a puppet of Russia or other countries, and not to shatter the situation in Ukraine.

16:05. Chairman of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov says that Kiev doesn't want to listen to Crimea. He accuses former opposition of its unwillingness to communicate with Crimeans.

16:15. The new government, headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk hopes to continue the Russian credit line, said Finance Minister Aleksandr Shlapak. He also noted that he wants to know the demands and claims of the Russian side.

16:22. Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation assured U.S. President Barack Obama in respect of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

16:36. Russia's Foreign Ministry has stated that Russian Black Sea Fleet strictly adheres to the Russian-Ukrainian agreements.

16:51. The 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement's activists are not going to go to Crimea to release captured buildings of the Crimean parliament and the Supreme Council of autonomy, stated its spokesman Yaroslav Babich.

17:03. The European Parliament fully supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine and is watching with concern the developments in Crimea and calls on Russia to refrain from worsening tensions, stated president of the EP Martin Schulz.

17:05. Spokesman for the Russian president Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the alleged agreement to provide personal safety of fugitive Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich in the Russian Federation.

17:09. Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has passed a second note to the Russian attorney about the possibility of consultations on Crimea, said newly appointed Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa.

17:26. Acting President, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Aleksandr Turchynov appointed Andrey Parubiy as Secretary of the National Security and Defenсe Council (NSDC).

17:29. Russia is outraged that Ukraine doesn't execute an agreement to settle the crisis, signed on February 21 by former opposition leader and former president Viktor Yanukovich., says a statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the events in Ukraine.

17:32. Chairman of the Central Council of the 'Green Alliance - People's Party' Oleg Mitvol on Feb. 27 stated that 'a group of Ukrainian citizens' bought a house for Viktor Yanukovich in Barvikha under Moscow for $52 million. This information has not yet been confirmed officially.

17:39. The European Parliament called for a targeted sanctions against former Ukrainian officials suspected of laundering money stolen in Ukraine, says a resolution adopted by the EP today.

17:41. Members of the Supreme Council of Crimea at today's meeting voted in favor of holding a referendum on the status of Crimea.

17:48. Viktor Gvozd has been appointed a new head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine. He headed the Headquarters of Intelligence in the Defenсe Ministry in 2008-2010.

17:53. Acting President of Ukraine Aleksandr Turchynov is heading to Simferopol (Crimea) in hope for a peaceful settlement of the situation.

18:02. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Friday, Feb. 28, will hold a press conference in Rostov-on-Don (Russia), reported RIA Novosti with reference to the environment of ousted president. The event will take place at 5 pm. Exact venue is to be announced.

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