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Ukrainian crisis: February 28 (live updates)

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Ukrainian crisis: February 28 (live updates)
The Crimean parliament

Read previous news on the topic: Ukrainian crisis: February 27

Ukrainian crisis: February 26

President Viktor Yanukovich provoked protests in Ukraine in November by backing out of plans to sign landmark deals with the European Union and instead saying Kiev would seek closer economic and trade ties with its former Soviet master Russia.

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.

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 Arseniy Yatseniuk the post of prime minister to replace Mykola 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 Mykola 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.

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 wanted an unconditional amnesty for protesters detained in the unrest to be broadened into an unconditional pardon for all those being held by police.

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'.

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 Oleksandr Turchinov, hostile 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. Yanukovich abandoned Kyiv.

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'.

In the evening of Feb. 24 most of the ministers under Yanukovich 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, 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.

Also, on Feb. 26 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. On the same day Viktor Yanukovich said 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.

00:11. Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Yuri Ilyin, appointed by Viktor Yanukovich, is still giving orders. Thus, he ordered the military to relocate from Kerch to Sevastopol.

00:24. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry urges Russia to objectively assess the situation and to refrain from making statements that impede the process of political and economic stabilization in Ukraine.

00:41. Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov says considers events associated with the seizure of the government buildings in Crimea as a scenario of seize of power in Ukraine by Russia.

00:54. Google-map has changed name of Instytutska Street in Kyiv to Heroes of Heavenly Hundred Street.

00:56. Any decisions taken in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which are contrary to the Constitution of Ukraine, will be illegitimate, stated Chairman of the Council of Judges of Ukraine Vasyl Onopenko.

01:25. Armed men took control of two airports in Crimea region on Friday. Invaders look like the people who yesterday seized the buildings of government and parliament of Crimea.

Although Ukraine's government described this as an invasion and occupation by Russian forces, Russia's Black Sea fleet, which is based in the region, denied its forces were involved in seizing one of the airports.

08:00. U.S. are ready to give Ukraine about 1 billion dollars in financial aid, stated Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Washington after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

08:18. Airport 'Simferopol', seized by unidentified gunmen on Friday morning, continues to operate normally.

08:31. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and assured him that the United States supports the formation of a new government.

08:48. In connection with the events in Ukraine, the State Duma of the Russian Federation will not only simplify the issuing of Russian passports to Ukrainians, but also the order of joining new subjects to the Russian federation.

09:11. Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov considers the seizure of the airports in Crimea to be an armed invasion and occupation in violation of all international agreements and norms.

10:05. Acting President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov has started a morning session of the Parliament.

10:08. Lithuanian Seimas Board on Friday decided to withdraw portrait of former President Viktor Yanukovich from the guest gallery. Lawmakers believe he has no place in the Seimas.

10:22. Austrian authorities have frozen accounts of 18 Ukrainian citizens in the Austrian National Bank at the request of Kyiv, reported Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.

10:54. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov summoned security chiefs to discuss the situation in Crimea.

10:54. The Verkovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, urged Moscow on Friday to cease any moves that could undermine the country's territorial integrity after armed men took control of two airports in Crimea region.

10:56. Economic reforms in Ukraine may be implemented in three to six months, stated new economy minister Pavlo Sheremet.

11:01. Ukraine's parliament on Friday asked the U.N. Security Council to call a session to discuss the crisis in the country in the light of a 1993 understanding in which the big powers agreed to guarantee the territorial integrity of the country.

11:06. Ukraine's central bank will limit foreign currency withdrawals from banking deposits to 15000 hryvnia ($1,500) per day in order to tame hryvnia volatility, central bank governor Stepan Kubiv told reporters on Friday.

11:24. The court dismissed the case against Yulia Tymoshenko concerning the activities of the corporation 'United Energy Systems of Ukraine' (EESU) due to lack of evidence.

11:32. Fans of FC 'Shakhtar' (Donetsk club) on Thursday, Feb. 27, during a minute of silence devoted to Euromaidan activists (killed in Kyiv) before a football match between 'Shakhtar' and the Czech 'Victoria' shouted: 'Berkut! Berkut' (rioe police - ed.). At the same time, ultras of FC 'Shakhtar' who supported Euromaidan, deployed a banner in memory of the dead, and sang a hymn of Ukraine. During the game ultras deployed Ukrainian flags at their podium.

11:33. Leader of Russian biker club 'Night Wolves' Aleksandr 'Surgeon' Zaldostanov, Vladimir Putin's friend said his bikers secured the administration of Sevastopol.

11:36. This morning, Feb. 28, missile gunboat of the Russian Black Sea Fleet approached the outer harbour of Balaklava bay near Sevastopol and thus locked out an exit of the bay into the sea to ships and boats of the State Border Service of Ukraine.

11:49. Ukraine's parliament adopted the bill number 1075 'On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine' on the Status of MPs of Ukraine', which repeals and restricts benefits provided to MPs by the state.

11:56. Ukraine's Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has signed a decree dismissing the head of the armed forces general staff, Admiral Yuriy Ilyin.

12:15. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has informed the leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko his intention to run for presidency of Ukraine.

12:26. Russian armed military blocked the work of the State Enterprise 'Krymaeroruh', which provides aircraft navigation over the territory of the Crimean peninsula.

12:36. The Verkhovna Rada expressed distrust to the National Council for Television and Radio.

12:41. Former Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, now individual MP Volodymyr Rybak believes that the Party of Regions needs to review its composition and ideology.

12:51. This morning 8 military helicopters from Anapa (Russia) landed In Sevastopol (Ukraine).

13:04. Geneva prosecutors (Switzerland) opened a case of money laundering on ousted President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich and his son Oleksandr.

13:25. Ukraine will ask Russia to extradite ousted President Viktor Yanukovich if it is confirmed that he is in Russia, the General Prosecutor's office said on Friday.

13:33. Belarus temporarily banned Ukrainian pork supply following a similar decision by Russia, which was adopted earlier in February.

13:38. Ukraine's parliament rehabilitated people who had been convicted from Feb. 1, 2010 to March 1, 2014 in a number of articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, pursuant to a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

13:52. The National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine is considering the imposition of a state of emergency in Crimea as one of the scenarios.

13:57. Ukraine's Prosecutor General on Friday ordered the detention of 10 top former government, security and military officials on suspicion of mass murder in the capital Kyiv.

The list, issued on the prosecutor general's website, includes former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka, former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, ousted president Viktor Yanukovich's administration chief Andry Klyuev and former Justice Minister Olena Lukash.

14:07. The European Union reiterated the readiness to provide financial assistance to modernize Ukraine's gas transport system, told EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger German magazine Focus.

14:20. Ukrainian Military Traffic Safety Inspectorate stopped at two KAMAZ trucks at a road to Eupatoria (Crimea) )with approximately 60 personnel of the Black Sea Fleet, who were going to take control over public broadcaster 'Marion' in Yalta.

14:27. Sevastopol coast guard detachment of the State Border Service of Ukraine is being blocked by the Black Sea Fleet of Russia, reported the State Border Service of Ukraine.

15:01. Leader of the 'Batkivschyna' faction Yulia Tymoshenko visited the tent city under Pechersk district court in Kyiv on Friday and asked activists to remove the camp.

15:05. Live webcast of Viktor Yanukovich's press conference from Rostov-on-Don (Russia).

Live webcast of Viktor Yanukovich's press conference from Rostov-on-Don

15:10. Former President Viktor Yanukovich insists on pursuing of the agreement of February 21 with the opposition on the settlement of the situation in the country.

15:15. Viktor Yanukovich said he left Ukraine because of threats to his life and to lives of his family.

15:19. President Viktor Yanukovich offered to hold a national referendum. He didn't name the topic.

15:24. President Viktor Yanukovich apologized for not being able to prevent 'chaos'. Ex-president said he 'wasn't strong enough to maintain stability'.

15:25. Ukraine's Parliament votes today under the influence of radicals and Euromaidan, said Yanukovich.

15:29. Former President Viktor Yanukovich explained why he is in Rostov-on-Don. Ha said he came to visit 'an old friend'.

15:32. Viktor Yanukovich said he would return to Ukraine as soon as he and his whole family were provided security guarantees.

15:32. Viktor Yanukovich said that he would not ask for military support from other countries.

15:32. Viktor Yanukovich said that did not escape from the country, and was forced to secure the safety of his life because of threats.

'They even talked about lustration of my grandson', he said. O_o

15:37. Viktor Yanukovich said that he got to Russia thanks to the 'patriotic officers'. He noted, that he hasn't met Vladimir Putin yet.

15:38. Viktor Yanukovich said that MPs from the Party of Regions had to tell he was a traitor 'at gunpoint'.

15:44. President Viktor Yanukovich considers current Ukrainian parliament illegitimate.

15:45. Former President Yanukovich is not going to participate in the elections in May, and is going to wait for official elections.

15:46. Viktor Yanukovich, responding to a journalist's request to comment on a criminal investigation started by the Geneva prosecutor (Switzerland) on money laundering case against him and his son Oleksandr, appealed to the new government of Ukraine to 'go back'.

15:47. Viktor Yanukovich blamed the West in the 'chaos in Ukraine'.

15:48. Former President Viktor Yanukovich said that he had met with 'Berkut' employees and asked them for an apology.

15:50. Euromaidan and the U.S. are to be blamed for an economic crisis in Ukraine, said Viktor Yanukovich.

15:54. Viktor Yanukovich responding to the question about Russia: 'I believe that Ukraine is our partner'.

15:55. Viktor Yanukovich has never had 'nothing personal' to the ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, he said.

15:59. I never gave the police an order to shoot, said Viktor Yanukovich.

16:03. Viktor Yanukovich at a press conference in Rostov-on-Don didn't want to answer the question of the channel 'Rain' on whether Vladimir Putin and Russia recognized his legitimacy as president.

16:07. Viktor Yanukovich said that the West, by recognizing new Ukrainian government, 'cynically deceived him'.

16:13. Viktor Yanukovich said that Russia as a partner of Ukraine 'should and must act' in a situation with his dismissal.

16:16. Viktor Yanukovich is not going to surrender to the Hague Tribunal. 'This bloody scenario was not written in Ukraine', he said.

16:22. Viktor Yanukovich demanded the Ukrainian authorities 'to stop atrocities' and resign.

16:25. Former President Viktor Yanukovich called himself the official owner of the house in Mezhigirya (area of 620 sq. m) and of an area of 1.7 hectares surrounding the house.

As for the other things there, both inside and outside of the house, he said he had rented them.

16:33. Viktor Yanukovich, when finishing his speech, said that current government doesn't care about Ukrainian people.

'I ask forgiveness of everyone. But not those scum nationalists and Banderivtsy', he said.

16:40. Swiss authorities have frozen the bank accounts of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and his associates, including former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and former head of the presidential administration Andriy Klyuyev.

16:48. There are snipers on the roof of the Crimean airport 'Belbek', say witnesses. Two 'Ural' trucks are blocking a runway towards the airport, located near Sevastopol.

In addition, in Yalta and Simferopol cars with armed military of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are blocking Ukrainian military units.

17:02. Russia has refused of consultations with the Ukrainian government over Crimea. Russia's Foreign Ministry doesn't recognize movement of the Russian Black Sea Fleet military as violations.

17:27. A video showing a group of armed men in helmets and with white ribbons on his hands entering the building of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea has been published on YouTube.

Armed men seizing the building of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea

17:35. Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov says that his people do not recognize new Council of Ministers of Crimea.

17:43. Head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde says believes that the situation in the Ukrainian economy is not critical.

17:46. Sergiy Aksenov, who was appointed as head of the Crimean government by the Supreme Council of Crimea on Feb. 27, said that there was no need in Russian military assistance, though 'theoretically' it was possible.

17:55. Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, one of the signatories of the 'peace' agreement signed by Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition on Feb. 21, rejected accusations of the ex-president.

'According to the information that I have, Viktor Yanukovich is the only one to blame, since the agreement provided that the old constitution would be returned within 48 hours. A vote was scheduled, and it happened, while the signing didn't happen. Therefore, Viktor Yanukovich has violated this agreement', noted Siktorski.

'In his place I'd be worried what to say to the prosecutor and to the court', he stressed.

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