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Friday, 28 February 2014

Ousted Yanukovich talks to press in Russia (FULL CONFERENCE) - YouTube #EuroMaidan @RT_com

Ousted Yanukovich talks to press in Russia (FULL CONFERENCE) - YouTube:

"Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich pledges to fight for Ukraine. He addressed a press conference in southern Russia, appearing in public for the first time since he fled Kiev amid bloody riots.


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Under sniper fire in Ukraine uprising - BBC News - YouTube

Under sniper fire in Ukraine uprising - BBC News - YouTube: ""

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Defiant Yanukovych says he didn't run anywhere, didn't give any order to shoot people @KyivPost #EuroMaidan

Defiant Yanukovych says he didn't run anywhere, didn't give any order to shoot people:

Feb. 28, 2014, 5:29 p.m. | Politics — by Kyiv Post
Ousted President Viktor Yanukovych from a screen shot at a press conference he gave in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.
© Courtesy
Editor's Note: Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych gave a live news conference from exile in Rostov-na-Don, Russia. The following is an unofficial translation from the Kyiv Post.  
Ukraine seized by 'pro-fascist activists'
"Dear journalists.
"It is time for me to say that I'm going to continue fighting for Ukraine's future against those who try to conquer it with fear and terror. I was forced to leave Ukraine because of an immediate threat to my life and the lives of people close to me.
"The power was taken in Ukraine by pro-nationalist youths, who represent an absolute minority.
"As you know, Ukraine was seized by pro-fascist activists.
"They violated what was agreed with participation of the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland and representatives of the Russian Federation.
"The immediate agreement that would balance out all power branches, i.e., the president, the cabinet and parliament, then hold an election in December 2014 for president and the approval of a new constitution.
"It is very important to have an unbiased investigation of all the violence under the guidance of a United Nations council, also give up all weapons and unblock all street squares.
"The armed people have to leave the streets both in Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine.
"Ukrainian should be provided with normal life, in Kyiv as well as in other regions.
Blames crisis on 'irresponsible policy of the West'
"It will be difficult to exit this tough crisis and turbulence that the country is going through as the result of it. It's a result of the irresponsible policy of the West that encouraged Maidan (protests). Ukraine is a strong country and we wil overcome this. I also suggest to conduct a national referendum on most important issues.
"These issues have to be the most important aspects of nation governance, unconditionally the cosntituion.
Q: "Yesterday in your statement you said the the agreement was not fullfiled. What are they reasons for such a statement?
"The agreement that was suposed to regulate the crisis envisages it will be fulfilled by both sides.
"I believed in the decency of international mediators. This agreement was quite controversial and complex. I signed it and so did the representaves of the opposition and delegations from abroad.
"The radical forces that were represented on Maidan, and not only on Maidan. I (demanded them to) disarm and free all conquered territories. It was not fulfilled.
"And as a result, Kyiv was overwhelmed with armed people who attacked houses, churches ... people were robbed in the streets, and it continues to this day. 
"The agreement gave us some hope. Innocent people were beaten and robbed, and it still continues. About what happened next is difficult to describe.
"It's chaos, terror. The decisions taken by parliament with deputies who were assaulted, pressure, thrown rocks at.  They were literally dragged on Maidan to give oaths. This is not the work of parliament, this is the work of Maidan. The decisions taken by parliament with deputies who were assaulted, pressure, thrown rocks at.
"This was supposed to be a government of national unity we agreed on.
"But it's hard to describe how the government is formed. They called their government the government of winners. The win over people?
"By the names who have been heard all over the world: (Dmytro) Yarosh, (Oleksandr) Parubiy, (Oleh) Tiahnybok. People who propagated violance. They are known all over the world, and Israel is in horror from it.
"I consider the parliament illegitimate.
"If the agreement had been fulfilled it could have calmed down the situation and started to regulate the political ciris, it was the start of the dead end where radicals took us. When the Constitutional Court is ruined, the country gets ruined as well, and we can't let this happen.
"Not only in Ukraine, but in the whole world when the Constitutional Court is destroyed, the statehood is destroyed.
Q: Are you ashamed of anything?
"I would like to say sorry to the veterans, to the Ukrainian people that I did not have the power to stop the chaos that is happening in Ukraine right now. First of all, I have to say I did not run, I moved from Kyiv to the city of Kharkiv. During my move I was shot at from automatic weapons. The car that covered me was effectively shot at from all sides."
Q: "Why did you left the country the next day that you signed the agreement, why didn't you ask European leaders for help?"
"I was not leaving alone, and did not run. 
"I wanted to meet with activists of the Party of Regions and civic organizations at the forum that was supposed to be held in Kharkiv.
"We did arrive late there. When we came to Kharkiv, early in the morning Feb. 22, the Security Service received information that the radical groups are coming to the city.
"There was no fear, none, these were security contitions that had to be envisaged and kept. To manage security is not my job, i took a decision. With me was speaker Voldoymyr Rybak and presidential chief of staff Andriy Klyuyev. Klyuyev and Rybak were with me.
"I asked them to fly to Donetsk and assemble the activists and tell everything that happened to us and what was happening in Kyiv.
"And I took a decision to go to Lugansk by two helicopters.
"The air traffic service warned us that if we do not turn from the course which they assume was going to Russia.
"The pilots decided to land in Donetsk. The pilots who are law-abiding citizens took a decion to land in Donetsk. I moved by car motorway to Donetsk. At the end ,we arrived to Crimea late in the evening.
"But my new plans were ruined by security threats. I got calls from my family that even my youngest grandson was in list that was to be lustrated. My son called me and said he could not risk in this situation.
Q: Why we are in Rostov? Pleace comment on the situation in Crimea.
A: "I came to find temrporary shelter with him. I think everything that happens in crime is a natural reaction to the bandit takeover in Kyiv. It was a bandit coup actually. It was done by a handful radicals. Naturally the Crimeans will not obey nationalists and (Stepan Bandera, 1909-1959) Banderites. It's natural, the desire of Crimeans to join the self-defense. They want to protect their houses and their families. I think Crimeans are listening to me, i would like to ask them to not allow bloodshed.
"As the legitimate president of Ukraine, I would like to to ask them to remember that Crimea has to stay within Ukraine as a broad autonomy. Crimeans want to protect their homes and families. I ask Crimeans to prevent bloodshed and arguements. As president, Crimea should stay within Ukrainian borders, with wide autonomy.
"I think that in any military action in this situation is inadmissible. And i am not planning to turn for military support. I think Ukraine should stay united. I will return to Ukraine as soon as the conditions of my security and the security of my family are observed.
Q: How did you get to Russia? Have you met with Putin?
"In Russia, I arrived thanks to the patriotic officers who performed their duty and helped me save my life. Second, i have not met with Vladimir Vladimorovych Putin. I have not, after arriving to the territory of Russia. We spoke on the phone. We agreed that as soon as the Russian president has an opportunity to meet with me, we shall meet. I said it wasn't just cheated, I was cynically cheated.
"But it's not just me, it's the whole Ukrainian people. I would like to hear an answer from those who signed and were effectively guarantors. I did not hear any suggestions and there was no communication, and i did not see in media any calls on their behalf to show how to solve it. i think this would not be enough. We should meet and discuss, this issue is not yet off agenda."
Q: Why did the Party of Regions split?
I am not a judge, let the God judge you, who behaves how, and i am not condemning those people who were forced under the automatics rifles - this is not an exaggerration - forces to take certain decisiosn, and their familiers,when their houses were burned. I talked to some of these deputies over the phone. What i heard from them was horrible. I will pray to God that the new so-called power will stop the violence thats going on. 
Q: What's the reason for nearly default situation in Ukraine? Are you going to take part in the election?
"The pre-default state, not a single expert will deny that this state arose after the situation in Ukraine was destablilized and Ukraine lost such a partner in trade as Russia. We paid salaries regularly, and we intended to continue to raise social payments. The whole population knows it. We guaranteed that all these programs would be fulfilled. Of course we prepared for the 2015 election and tried to persuade the population that it's' best to live in a stable country. Our support was the highest among all parties in Ukraine. People believed it. I am placing full repsonsibility on those who led to chaos and catastrophe. Those who cam to power and those who command on Maidan, including the representatives of the West who blessed Maidan.
"The election is not legal, and I will not take part in it. I think all elections have to happen in accordance with law and constitution. The USA representatives who followed Maidan, they are responsible to Ukrainians."
Q: Are you going to continue your political career?  How are you going to fight for Ukraine?
"As soon as I have a real opportunity and conditions are created and guarantees of my security, including from international mediators, I will immediately go to Ukraine. I can see the way to regulate the crisis. 
"Primarily it's the agreement that was signed and not fulfilled on one side. The non-fulfillment of this agreement is fully to blame on the West, hich sent envoys, agreed on all conditions, and discussed all clases at the council that gathered on that day in Brussels.
"I don't think there is a single person in this hall who would derive pleasure from what'a going on in Kyiv. You understand my condition and the condition of my like-minded people and the people who suffer as a result of terror and chaos in the country. I have addressed and would like to address again all participants. 
'It's not too late to go back'
"I reject what's going on, these methods. It's not too late to return along with your patrons from the West. It's not too late to go back. I met with the Berkut (riot police offiers ) who stood there, and i apologized to them, without weapons and they had Molotov cocktails fired at them, and were attacked with guns."
Q: What do you think about ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's release from prison on Feb. 22 Would you like to apologize to the Berkut (riot police officers) who protected you with their bodies?
"I would like to apologize to them again. I don't know about Yulia Tymoshenko. I don't know if she will run for election and the Ukrainian people are to answer. As far as her criminal case goes, she was sentenced by court, the court took decisions. Her conditions were exclusive. Her freeing is an issue that is in legal sphere primarily. How she was freed i have never wished her any bad. But the (2009) agreement she signed (with Russia about the price of natural gas imports) led to more than $20 billion in losses. She know that very well.
"The West and actually the president of Russia Vladimir Putin expressed a different point of view from that of the court, and my position is that it's their own business but the Ukrainian court answered that question. I am repeating with facts.
Q: How can you prove that you are the real president of Ukraine?
"The laws that were approved by violence in parliament. I do not recognize and will never recognize. I did not sign them and they will not work. This is the legal fact. If the president did not resign, according to constitution, if he is alive - and as you can see i am alive - and if he was not impeached, he is still acting president. The show in parliaent, with violence against deputies, i cannot recognize and will never recognize."
Q: What is the role of Russia in this conflict?
"I think Ukraine [Editor's Note: He assumingly meant to say Russia] is our strategic partner. The agreements between Ukraine and Russia, within the framework of those agreements Russia has a right to act. I think Russia must act, and knowing the character of Vladimir Vladimorich Putin, I am surprised that he is so restrained and silent. Those agreements we have with Russia, Russia has a right to act.
Q: Do you regret conducting negotiations with Maidan representatives?
"We conducted official negotiations with representativs of the opposition.The rest of negotiations on the human level with any representatives of Maidan, civic organizarions, there were a lot of them, and they were all directed to prevent bloodshed and finding a compromise. I regret that in this way, peacefully we could not regulate. I am not accepting any way of regulating the issues, except peaceful. No power is worth a drop of bloodshed. This is all on consciouness of those people who shot. 
'I never gave orders to shoot'
"I never gave orders to shoot. As you know the police were not armed until the last moment when they were attacked. And as you know they protect themselves with arms under the law. I am remembering 2004, when the situation was similar, when my supporters arrived to the railway station,around 40 000 people, and on Maidan there were so-called Orange Revolution people. I went to the train station, and stoped people from bloodshed."
"I told them your mothers, your wives will never forgive you if there are deaths and if there is bloodshed. The rest of negotiations on the human level with any representatives of Maidan, civic organizations. There were a lot of them, and they were all directed to prevent bloodshed and finding a compromise. 
"Regarding The Hague , my point of view is that first there has to be an independent investigation, with participartion of power and opposition, with participation of the Council of Europe. After an investigation we can talk about courts. I would prefer not to answer these questions. I am often provoked. 
'The truth will be known'
"I will tell you that time will pass and the truth will be known. Now there is a theater performance with the participation of militants and their patrons." 
Mezhyhirya 'too old, I had to repair it'
"The power changed, and they tried to remove me. There was an offer to buy it. I paid. That house was too old, I had to repair it. Then there was a decision for me to buy it. I paid $3,200,000. The rest does not belong to me. Part of the premises i rented to fulfill my duties as a president. This is a campaign to discredit. I have never had any property. I have never had any foreign account. There are real owners, you will hear from them, and international lawysers will be going to court,because this property is not under Ukrainian ownership.
'Stop or you will be held responsible'
"I am a public person. Evrything I had was declared and was on my accounts and when they say my son owns it, I have never heard it. This is empty bell-ringing. I would like to say again to come back to their senses and stop or you will be held responsible...
"I would like to again address those who call themselves legal power. I would like to say leave and do not allow more lawlessness and grief for the Ukrainian people. I would like to address the Ukrainian people. I would like to apologize to everyone who has suffered and continues to suffer. I will do whatever I can do.
Disavows 'scum, nationalists and Banderites'
I will keep going to be with people of Ukraine, not the scum, nationalists and Banderites [Editor's Note: Reference to Stepan Bandera, 1909-1959, a Ukrainian nationalist leader who is an iconic nationalist to his supporters and reviled by his critics for allegedly sympathizing with the Nazis during World War II.]
"If was in Ukraine. I would bow to every one of them and meet with every family, regardless of the side. The lives of people have always be most important to me. The truth will eventually come out."

Klitschko confirms he, Tymoshenko will run for president - #EuroMaidan

Klitschko confirms he, Tymoshenko will run for president:

UDAR party leader Vitali Klitschko on Friday confirmed that he would run for president of Ukraine in the planned early election on May 25 and said former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the Batkivschyna (Fatherland) party, had told him she was also going to seek presidential office.
"I said from the platform of the Verkhovna Rada [parliament] many months ago that I would run … We didn't expect an early election, but my plans haven't changed," Klitschko told reporters at the Verkhovna Rada.
He said that two days before he contacted Tymoshenko, and that she told him she also wanted to run for president.
He dismissed a remark that, if both he and Tymoshenko become presidential candidates, it would in effect mean rivalry between politicians who are essentially allies.
"I can't see anything wrong there, but it will be very strange if opposition forces become rivals. I hope that, if there is any rivalry, it will be honest, transparent, and based on modern European principles," he said. "If members of opposition forces take part in the presidential election, I'm sure that the most important thing is an honest rivalry and honest vote counts."
Klitschko said Tymoshenko's decision to run had come as a surprise to him. "She hadn't said so anywhere but confirmed this in our conversation," he said.

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Who's Who In Ukraine's 'Kamikaze' Cabinet - #EuroMaidan

Who's Who In Ukraine's 'Kamikaze' Cabinet:

By Daisy Sindelar
It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. That was the message as Ukraine's parliament voted to approve a new cabinet that takes over a country still rocked by separatist clashes and spiraling into economic chaos.

The country's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, referred to the current government as a "doomed" body that would have only three-four months to implement radical and deeply unpopular reforms.

Despite vows to create a "unity" government, the current cabinet features primarily members of Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party and no members of Vitali Klitschko's UDAR party.

Prime Minister
Arseniy Yatsenyuk (39) -- Among leading members of Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, formerly served as economy and foreign minister. Was one of the three main opposition figures during Euromaidan, but lost considerable public appeal after negotiating compromise deal with now-ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Has warned of "extremely unpopular" financial steps ahead, and has grimly referred to new cabinet members as "kamikaze" posts.

First Deputy Prime Minister
Vitaliy YaremaVitaliy Yarema

Vitaliy Yarema (50) -- The former chief of the Kyiv police force, Yarema became a powerful critic of Interior Ministry forces during Euromaidan, and has spearheaded independent investigations into a number of attacks on protesters, including that on journalist Tetyana Chornovol (see below). Yarema, who joined the Verkhovna Rada as a Fatherland lawmaker in 2012, will now oversee the defense, interior, and foreign ministries, as well as the National Security and Defense Council. (The interim president, not parliament, must approve the defense and foreign posts.) Yatsenyuk has referred to Yarema as the No. 2 official in the new government.

National Security & Defense Council Secretary
Andriy ParubiyAndriy Parubiy

Andriy Parubiy (43) -- A seasoned politician with theMaidan seal of approval, Parubiy has served as a lawmaker in the Verkhovna Rada since 2007, first for Our Ukraine, then for Fatherland. Served as coordinator of the Euromaidan's Samooborona self-defense forces, and helped negotiate a cease-fire with police following last week's bloodshed. Dmytro Yarosh, the head of the nationalist Right Sector, had been offered a deputy post on the council, but has not yet agreed to the terms. Unlike cabinet ministers, his post was approved by the interim president.

Foreign Minister
Andriy DeshchytsyaAndriy Deshchytsya

Andriy Deshchytsya (48) -- A career diplomat, Deshchytsya has served as ambassador to Finland and Iceland, and also has long-standing ties with neighboring Poland. A Lviv native, Deshchytsya received a Ph.D. in political science from Canada's University of Alberta, and is fluent in Polish, English, and Russian. Since 2012 has served as ambassador at large and the OSCE's special representative on protracted resolution, driving Ukraine's efforts to resolve Moldova's Transdniestrian conflict.

Defense Minister
Rear Admiral Ihor TenyukhRear Admiral Ihor Tenyukh

Ihor Tenyukh (55) -- Rear admiral and former commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Tenyukh provoked Russian animosity in 2008 when he ordered vessels to block the entrance of the Russian Navy to the bay of Sevastopol during the Russia-Georgia War. Two years later, he was dismissed from his position by Yanukovych. Tenyukh played an active role during the Euromaidan protests, calling on members of the armed forces to defy "illegal" orders from the authorities. Lviv native and member of the nationalist Svoboda party.

Deputy Prime Minister
Oleksandr Sych
 (49) -- A member of parliament from the nationalist Svoboda party, Sych has served as the party's longtime ideological chief and the head of its regional organizations in Ivano-Frankivsk. Has worked as a history professor and has authored numerous essays on the history of Ukraine's liberation movement. Co-authored a controversial bill proposing to ban abortion except in instances of medical need or documented rape. Has said women have the right to not get pregnant, but should do so by "leading an orderly life."

Deputy Prime Minister For European Integration
Borys TarasyukBorys Tarasyuk

Borys Tarasyuk (65) -- A seasoned diplomatic official, Tarasyuk spent the early years of Ukraine's independence as ambassador to the Benelux countries and Kyiv's representative in NATO. He went on to work as foreign minister under Leonid Kuchma, before breaking with Kuchma to work as Viktor Yushchenko's foreign-relations adviser during his presidential election campaign. He was appointed foreign minister a second time after the Orange Revolution, and went on to serve as a Fatherland lawmaker. He is the founder of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and strongly supports Ukraine's EU and NATO integration. Has already indicated the government will be ready to sign an EU Association Agreement "within a week or two." According to hisFacebook page, he has rejected the post.

WATCH: Large crowds react to the announcement of individual ministers on Kyiv's Independence Square on February 26.

Health Minister
Oleh Musiy
 (48) -- As head doctor for the Euromaidan medical staff, Musiy comes to the post with enormous public support. An anesthesiologist and emergency-care specialist, Musiy has also received degrees in health-care management and organization. He has served as the president of the Ukrainian Medical Association and led a Verkhovna Rada advisory board on public-health issues. One of the first doctors to initiate and sponsor a code of ethics for Ukrainian doctors.

Interior Minister
Arsen AvakovArsen Avakov

Arsen Avakov (50) -- Baku-born and of Armenian origin, Avakov rose through the political ranks in Kharkiv, serving as regional governor under Yushchenko and a high-ranking member of his Our Ukraine party. Since 2010 has served as head of the regional branch of Fatherland in Kharkiv, where he narrowly lost to Hennadiy Kernes in mayoral elections the same year. In 2012, he faced charges of abuse of office in a case some said was politically motivated. He was arrested in Italy on an Interpol warrant, but a court dropped the charges after he was elected to the Verkhovna Rada in October that year. Has served as acting interior minister since February 22, and has already signed an order disbanding the Berkut riot police.

Finance Minister
Oleksandr ShlapakOleksandr Shlapak

Oleksandr Shlapak (54) -- Born in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, raised and educated in Lviv. Long political career, having alternately served as economy minister, deputy National Bank chairman (where he worked alongside Yatsenyuk), treasury chairman, and presidential representative in the cabinet of ministers. Shlapak gained notoriety in 2011 when he was doused with water while testifying against Tymoshenko at the Pechersk court. Is considered a close associate of Ukrainian banking billionaire Serhiy Tihipko.

Minister Of Social Policy
Lyudmila DenysovaLyudmila Denysova

Lyudmyla Denysova (53) -- Experienced politician who served as minister of labor and social policy under Tymoshenko from 2007 to 2010. Born in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk, she moved to Crimea in the early 1990s, where she rose through the ranks of regional government, holding a range of economic and treasury posts. Served as the region's legal adviser and pension-fund manager. Joined Fatherland in 2005, won several parliament seats, including in 2012. Was ranked one of Ukraine's most influential women in 2009.

Justice Minister
Pavlo Petrenko
 (34) -- A lawyer and Fatherland deputy since 2012. Earlier served as a deputy in the Kyiv regional council, where he worked on the body's anticorruption committee. Has also served as general counsel for Ukraine's State Savings Bank.

Culture Minister
Yevhen NyshchukYevhen Nyshchuk

Yevhen Nyshchuk (41) -- Actor and singer who served as unofficial master of ceremonies at the Euromaidan protests, just as he had a decade earlier at Kyiv's Orange Revolution -- roles that have earned him the sobriquet "Voice of Maidan." Nyshchuk, who used his position to broadcast security instructions to protesters during outbreaks of violence, also drew numerous musicians to the Maidan stage, telling one interviewer that while the protests should not devolve into an open-air concert, "Ukrainians can't live without music, whether in moments of sadness or moments of joy." Has vowed to restore and preserve Ukrainian cultural heritage.

Economic Development & Trade Minister
Pavlo SheremetaPavlo Sheremeta

Pavlo Sheremeta (42) -- The first dean of the Kyiv-Mohyla Business School and president of the Kyiv School of Economics, Sheremeta is considered an expert on developing economies and has the unusual distinction of having served as a special adviser to the government of Malaysia. He also holds a degree from Emory University in Atlanta and graduated from the management-development program at Harvard. Frequently ranked among Ukraine's top managers. Expressed surprise at being named economy minister, but acknowledged need for "new faces" in government. Will be key player as Ukraine races to push through urgent reforms needed to secure international loans.

Education & Science Minister
Serhiy KvytSerhiy Kvyt

Serhiy Kvyt (48) -- The rector of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy national university, Kvyt is one of Ukraine's most respected literary critics and educators. A determined opponent of his predecessor, Dmytro Tabachnyk, whom he accused of attempting to limit university autonomy and limiting available seats for potential students. His appointment is certain to please Ukraine's politically active student class, which had spent years lobbying for Tabachnyk to be thrown out of office for pro-Russian, "Ukrainophobic" tendencies.

Youth & Sports Minister
Dmytro BulatovDmytro Bulatov

Dmytro Bulatov (35) -- The Automaidan activist whose weeklong disappearance and brutal torture at the hands of unidentified captors became a pivotal chapter in the 90-day Euromaidan protests. Opposition supporters, including Channel 5 owner Petro Poroshenko, kept close watch over Bulatov after he survived the ordeal, returning badly beaten and near starvation. A Kyiv native with three small children, Bulatov returned to Ukraine this week after receiving medical treatment for injuries that included a partially severed ear.

Fuel & Energy Minister
Yuriy ProdanYuriy Prodan

Yuriy Prodan (55) -- Russian-born Prodan returns to the key energy post after serving a 2 1/2-year stint under Yulia Tymoshenko, during which Ukraine signed the controversial natural-gas deal with Russia that Yanukovych later used to jail Tymoshenko. He is not aligned with any political party. Prodan, whose career includes stints at the monopoly energy suppliers for Kyiv and Ukraine, also served as deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council. His first tasks may include negotiating a manageable agreement on Russian gas supplies and pushing through energy-pricing reforms seen as key to the EU Association Agreement.

Anticorruption Bureau Chief
Tetyana ChornovolTetyana Chornovol

Tetyana Chornovol (34) -- Like Bulatov, an investigative reporter and activist. Chornovol survived a horrifying beating at the hands of unknown assailants hours after publishing an article accusing Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko of mass corruption. Her beating added to Euromaidan calls for Zakharchenko's ouster, as well as the need to create a specific government post dealing with corruption issues. She was the first journalist to report on Yanukovych's lavish Mezhyhirya estate, in 2006. This is her first government post, having unsuccessfully run for parliament in 2012.

Lustration Committee Chief
Yehor SobolevYehor Sobolev

Yehor Sobolev (37) -- A career journalist and Euromaidan commandant credited with being one of the protests' most astute organizers and strategists. Sobolev, who had rare access to Yanukovych during the 2004 Orange Revolution, urged protesters early on to avoid violence at all costs, saying it took away their "moral high ground." His wife, Maria Padalka, is a popular TV broadcaster. Like the anticorruption bureau, the lustration committee is a new post, created at the insistence of Maidan organizers.

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Stakes raised in Ukraine - YouTube #EuroMaidan

Stakes raised in Ukraine - YouTube: ""

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

February revolution | A good primer from #EIU - #EuroMaidan

February revolution:

On February 18th-20th confrontation with the police saw Ukraine's long-running anti-government protests transformed into an insurrection. As support for the president, Victor Yanukovych, fractured, a compromise deal with opposition politicians was brokered by the EU. As it did not include the immediate removal of Mr Yanukovych, however, it was always likely to be unacceptable to the more radical "Euromaidan" protesters. That night, the president and most of his cabinet fled the capital, Kiev. The collapse of the Yanukovych government is the most significant political event in Ukraine since independence in 1991. Nonetheless, acute political and economic challenges for the new authorities lay ahead.

At least 25 people were killed on February 18th-19th, as state security forces attempted to remove anti-government protesters from the centre of the capital. They have been camped out in Independence Square (known as Maidan) since late 2013, when Mr Yanukovych, in an unexpected about-face, refused to sign the long-planned association and free-trade deal with the EU. Violence was reignited by the failure of the ruling majority in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) to countenance a return to the 2004 constitution, which would transfer key presidential powers back to parliament.

After mass shootings, president's ship began to sink

The president's grip on power was weakened decisively following yet more deadly street battles on February 20th. From the side of the square that they still held, in early morning demonstrators' self-defence groups began a co-ordinated counterattack through the thick black smoke of burning tyres. Officers fired live rounds at their advancing opponents, mowing down a large number of them straight away. Still more were killed by police snipers firing from the rooftops in neighbouring streets. Amid scenes of urban warfare, in which they were heavily outgunned, the protesters continued to drive back the security forces. News of high fatalities—at least 50 more people died—saw uprisings take off again in important provincial cities.

In contrast, the institutional support system around the president began to crumble as both ordinary soldiers and army officers refused orders to quell the protests. Rising numbers of deputies from the president's Party of Regions (PoR) began to resign and the media outlets of his main big business allies started to broadcast the protests in a more objective light. This was followed by news of police units declaring their allegiance to the Euromaidan activists. As a result, the president's options narrowed markedly—either to attempt a compromise or to intensify the crackdown.

EU mediates the deal that failed

With violence escalating, the foreign ministers of three EU countries—Poland, France and Germany—rushed to the city to try to mediate a compromise. They shuttled between the opposition and the president through the night and for most of the day of February 21st to come up with a combination a terms that could be backed by all. Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, had to remind participants that in a compromise, no one gets everything they want. "If you don't support this," he is reported to have told the opposition, "you will have martial law, the army. You'll be dead." The demonstrators' co-ordinating council then gave its go-ahead for the document to be signed. The main features of the deal included a reversion to the 2004 constitution, which provides for a more parliamentary style of rule; the formation of a government with members from the ruling and opposition parties, within ten days; and the holding of a pre-term presidential election, as soon as possible after work on new "balanced" constitution was complete (by December 2014 at the latest).

Soon after, parliament passed a series of laws with extraordinary rapidity—reinstating the 2004 constitution, offering amnesty to all protesters, removing Vitaly Zakarchenko as minister of the interior and releasing Yuliya Tymoshenko, a former prime minster jailed under Mr Yanukovych in a case widely perceived as politically motivated. The session confirmed a key development of the previous day (February 20th), the desertion of the president's supporters, as many members of his PoR voted for these bills.

However, far from all of the protest groups that make up the Euromaidan movement were ready to accept an agreement which left Mr Yanukovych in power, and said so vocally. During the night of February 21st, the president and most of his cabinet fled the city. Police withdrew from Kiev's streets and, the following morning, protesters stood guard in front of key government buildings. Over the weekend of February 22nd-23rd, the Rada continued to pass bills at breakneck speed—relieving Mr Yanukovych of his duties when he refused to resign, setting a date of May 25th for a presidential election and appointing Oleksandr Turchynov, a former head of state security under the premiership of Ms Tymoshenko, as interim president.

Immediate tasks

It is now probably safe to describe the events of February 18th-23rd as a bona fiderevolution—that is, a mass movement that dislodges by force a government perceived as irredeemably corrupt, with the hope of initiating institutional or systemic change. Despite the speed with which the Yanukovych government collapsed, in the end, continuing attempts to find and arrest him—wherever he is hiding—may be a sideshow. However, his disappearance leaves the new authorities facing a range of daunting challenges with which they will have to get to grips quickly. These include:
  • the formation of an effective new government, made harder perhaps by the re-emergence of the freed Ms Tymoshenko, if she decides to stand as a presidential candidate, and the unclear future role of the Euromaidan activists—some of whom will presumably enter formal politics;
  • the prevention of financial meltdown—chiefly, the collapse of the hryvnya and a run on the banking system—through the promise and agreement of Western loans in return for reform;
  • the calming of the political situation in the Russian-speaking south-east, especially Crimea, and the elaboration of a constitutional settlement amenable to electorates across the country; and
  • dealing with Russia's response to the political changes in its neighbour, after what seems like huge foreign policy defeat for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

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Ukraine's U-turn - The real battle for Ukraine has just started | European Voice

Ukraine's U-turn | European Voice:

"When Ukrainians took to the streets after President Viktor Yanukovych reneged on a deal with the European Union, they heralded the end of Ukraine as we knew it. Three months on, Ukraine is already a profoundly different country – and the process is far from over.

The ‘Maidan' stands for much more than the removal of Yanukovych: it calls for a change of system, not just for a change within the current political framework. It is about a new generation fed up with cronyism and corruption and willing to stand up against them. The key words in the Ukrainian revolt were ‘inequality', ‘dignity' and ‘rent-seeking' – and as such, Ukraine mirrors global challenges.

The ‘Maidan' has taken on a political life and influence of its own. Yanukovych fled Kiev only after it became obvious that ‘the Maidan' would not accept the deal brokered by the EU – a lengthy process of an unclear constitutional reform and uncertainty about whether and when the president would go. It is already clear that the Maidan, not the parliamentary opposition, were right when it came to Yanukovych."

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Sifting the sodden evidence of Ukraine’s corruption | beyondbrics

Sifting the sodden evidence of Ukraine’s corruption | beyondbrics:

In the sauna where guests of Viktor Yanukovich may once have spent their downtime relaxing, documents allegedly laying bare his corrupt dealings are drying after a foiled attempt at destroying them by throwing them in a reservoir.

Ukrainian investigative journalists and activists have begun publishing a cache of documents incriminating Yanukovich, Ukraine’s disgraced president, after rescuing them from the Kiev Sea near his lavish presidential compound outside Kiev.

Shortly after Yanukovich fled the country it emerged that documents had – literally – surfaced from the reservoir, which is next to the president’s mansion, also known as Mezhyhiria. 

Volunteer divers rescued 200 folders from their intended watery grave. Archivists have been drafted to help preserve them, while journalists and volunteers are scanning and publishing them online – nearly 1,300 had been posted at publication time.

Among the early discoveries are documents that show receipts for millions of dollars in cash and lavish expenditure on zoo animals, luxury goods and decoration for the mansion. They also shed light on the complex ownership of Mezhyhiria itself, a former state asset that had been privatised and wasowned by a mysterious company called Tantalit.

“During this government transition it’s a critical moment to save everything for future investigation by official law enforcement agencies. We want to make sure that nothing disappears or is destroyed,” says Natalia Sedletska of Radio Liberty, who is participating in the efforts.

The Ukranian parliament has voted to have Yanuchvich face charges before the International Criminal Court when he is arrested. The documents found could serve to prove claims of corruption by the regime and could be used at a separate corruption trial, the journalists believe.

Under a deal struck with Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office, the journalists have several days to scan and review the documents before passing them on to the authorities.

The tale of the rescue of the documents is one full of ironies. Yanukovich’s guest house, also nicknamed “Putin’s house” because it was rumoured to have hosted Russian president Vladimir Putin, has been turned into a headquarters for the journalists, with reporters pouring over documents, seeking answers to questions about government corruption they had long been probing.

“I would never believe that his kind of thing could happen. We are sitting for days in Mezhyhiria – which has previously featured in our investigations – copying documents that prove corruption,” says Sedletska.

A list of reporters and activists drafted for security guards at Mezhyhiria – dubbed the ‘persona non-grata list’ – was found among the documents. Some of the reporters who feature on the list are now among those investigating the documents.

Since the weekend, the journalists have found further documents – believed to be in the tens of thousands – at an archive within the compound.

“They tried to drown the most sensitive ones, as there are empty spaces on the shelves in the archive.” says Vlad Lavrov, a long time investigative journalist who was one of the first on the scene. Additional documents since found are about Suholucchya, a hunting club frequented by the Ukrainian elite, high level officials and oligarchs.

“We hope we have enough documentation to ensure that these crimes are prosecuted to the fullest, which will also mean that the new government will be reminded of the need to be transparent and accountable to the public,” says Lavrov of the first crack into the murky depths of Yanukovich’s secrets. The full extent of the revelations will likely take months. “It’s a bit overwhelming”, says Lavrov.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Post-Euromaidan Risks

So, in the news lately...

The special forces' assault on Euromaidan was unsuccessful, President Yanukovych has been ousted and is currently nowhere to be found, the death toll is stable at 100+, journalists and economists are studying and publishing sheaths of inside accounting records from the presidential residence, dozens of influential politicians have left the Party of Regions, Tymoshenko has been freed from political imprisonment, those guilty for the military escalation are slowly being searched for and brought to justice. A new government is quickly being formed and gaining back control over the country.

All good news, right? Indeed, but there are very substantial risks ahead.

Domestic political risks

There is substantial risk of disappointment in the new political leaders, similar to what happened following the 2004 Orange Revolution. What will trigger this are things like: an overt focus on dividing portfolios and power amongst themselves without involving new leaders from Euromaidan, an absence of new faces, a focus on secondary issues such as the status of the Russian language versus Ukrainian, a lack of attention to systemic reforms in the judiciary and penitentiary system and in law enforcement, economic decline, etc.

These are very substantial risks, and it would seem that some are playing out right now.

Sovereign debt risks

Ukraine's currency has been rapidly losing value in recent weeks, and the country is close to bankruptcy. Its credit rating was lowered to CCC recently. The country's finances are in sorry shape, and the new government may have to make unpopular decisions in order to keep it afloat. European and Russian creditors are willing to help...

Risk of loss of territory

To try to understand Ukraine's delicate geopolitical situation and the vested interests of Russia and the West, I have found commentary by Polish-American analyst Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Putin aide Andrey Illarionov to be extremely helpful.

Basically, influential policymakers in the Kremlin, with Putin at the center, do not view Ukraine as a full-fledged country and are biding their time to get it — or a large chunk of it — back. Now is a time when Ukraine's strength and prosperity relative to Russia is at a historic low. The country is in the midst of political chaos. Russia's anti-Euromaidan propoganda machine is operating at full throttle and influencing the views of Russians and Ukrainians in Eastern and Southern Ukraine who follow Russian news sources.

Russian news channels have been calling Euromaidan protesters "extremists" and "terrorists" and have been making it seem like they hate Russians and present a physical risk to Russians in Ukraine. It would appear Moscow is preparing to use the pretext of danger to Russian citizens in Ukraine to use various "means" to "offer protection" to their citizens in such a "precarious state of affairs." As noted by former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili in recent publications, this tactic was put to use in Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia).

The greatest risk is that Crimea will be destabilized and pressured to secede from Ukraine. There is a somewhat smaller risk that eastern regions such as Donetsk, Lugansk, possibly Kharkiv, and possibly Odessa will follow.

To understand how Ukraine and the West can help avoid this, read Brzezinski's recent article in The Financial Times. I'm no expert on geopolitics, but what he's saying makes more sense than anything I've read from other western analysts.

Cause for optimism

This time around, compared to 2004, Ukrainians seem to be quite a bit wiser and better educated. Social networks (i.e. Facebook, vkontakte, Twitter) have been key in distributing information during and following the Euromaidan demonstrations and confrontation. People are better aware of Russia's motives and the many risks involved. They are more prone to action, petitions, demonstrating, and are more courageous than ever before.

I am very proud of my Ukrainian friends and the Ukrainian people in general and thrilled to see them come to feel more united and empowered. But not everyone is on the bandwagon, though its numbers are growing. Ukraine will need to pursue careful reforms at home without disenchanting large parts of the populace, and wise policies abroad given its position between Europe and Russia.

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