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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ukraine: massive protests ongoing while the crisis is deepening with the power and opposition unable to find compromise

Huge protets on Kyiv Independent Square
(Image: Liga NET)
Situation on Ukraine where the massive anti-government protests sparked after failure of Vilnius Summit and signing of the Association Agreement with EU and violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrators on Independence Square in Kyiv. Tens of thousands are protesting in Kyiv and blocking the key administrative buildings such as Cabinet of Ministers, Parliament, Kyiv City Council, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Education. Huge demonstrations continue in other cities all over the country as well.

After Tuesday’s failure of Ukrainian opposition to vote for the non-confidence motion to the government and for the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his Cabinet of Ministers in Parliament the protests didn’t reduce with more people gathering in the capital for the protests and many arriving to Kyiv from other regions of Ukraine.



We would remind that on Tuesday, 3 December, opposition initiated voting for the draft of the decree of non-confidence motion to government and its resignation accusing Prime Minister and his cabinet of national treason and using violent force during dispersal of demonstrators on Saturday and violent clashes and beating protesters by the soldiers of special forces (“Berkut”) on Sunday, in front of the Presidential Administration. Special committee of Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian government) gathered for the special meeting one day before supported this draft and recommended Parliament to vote for resignation of the current Cabinet of Ministers.

Euromaidan in Lviv
(Image: The Insider)
Several representatives of the Parliament and some MPs including prominent members of the ruling pro-Yanukovich Party of Regions declared a lot of party members are stepping down from their positions and giving back their MP’s mandates and that the wide majority could be formatted in the parliament, what will enable voting for the Cabinet’s resignation.

These statements though appeared to be just speculations as none of the ex-Party of Regions members voted for the project of the opposition regarding government’s resignation. Only one member of Party of Regions gave his vote in favor of this decision.

Opposition failed to reach the numbers of votes needed for decision to be taken, so the attempt to oust the government failed. Next chance to make it in Parliament could be only during the next plenary session of Parliament, according to Ukrainian law, which stipulates, that Parliament can vote for the resignation of Cabinet of Ministers and similar issues only one time during the current session. Next plenary session will be in February 2014.

Protesters in front of Cabinet of Ministers building
(Image: I-News)
The failure in Parliament disappointed oppositional leaders and protesters as well, but the street actions continue, and people remain on Independence Square and in the area of the governmental buildings. The numbers of protesters are increasing despite the cold weather.

Opposition though declared they have plan B, which was delivered to the people after the failure in the parliament. Oppositional leaders (Arseny Yatsenyuk, Vitaly Klichko and Oleg Tyagnybok) have called on people to march to the Presidential Administration in order to block it and demand Victor Yanukovich to sign a decree about resignation of Mykola Azarov and his government, as it is in the President’s jurisdiction now to make such a step.

The demand of the opposition and protesters of President’s resignation remains in power as well. Oppositional leaders claim they will demand early presidential and parliamentary elections, release of imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko and other political prisoners, punishment of those responsible for the recent violent attacks against the peaceful demonstrators and investigation of the cases, release of all the people recently arrested and accuses for provocations and inciting violence on Sunday, during the clashes between protesters and special security forces. Opposition claims they will continue to act in a peaceful way trying to deliver their message and their demands to the current authorities.

Oppositional leaders Arsenyb Yatsenyuk, Vitaly Klichko and
Oleg Tyagnybok
(Image: Vinnitsya OK)
President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovich in his turn isn’t currently in Ukraine. He arrived to Chine for the planned four days visit. In China Mr. Yanukovich is expected to meet with several state’s officials, to negotiate some issues and questions of cooperation between the two countries, share the experience of China in some fields of industry and sign a number of agreements of economical character. Today President has visited some Chinese museums, while his country is in turmoil.

Wednesday’s session of Parliament appeared to be extremely short as oppositional MPs have blocked the tribune and the work in the session hall was impossible. Parliament’s speaker Volodymyr Rybak has closed the session in several minutes.

The building of Parliament was surrounded by the cordons of military and riot police with the entrances to the building blocked with the buses. Several thousand protesters have gathered in front of the building to make the Parliament to hear their demands and to push the MPs to take the necessary decision. The roads leading to the Parliament’s building were also blocked. Parliamentarians faced two lines of cordons in order to get inside: first line consisted of the activists and protesters demanding to show MP’s IDs in order to prevent entering the building by any provocateurs, the second line was police.
Protests in front of the court where detaineess have been tried
(Image: Левый Берег LB)

At the same time nearly 1 500 people have gathered in Mariinsky Park, located right behind the building of Parliament, to support President and the current government. Meeting of President’s and government’s supporters was surrounded by the fences and guarded by the policemen standing on the perimeter of the site of meeting. People have been chanting in support of the political course of President and Prime Minister and holding banners with the slogans in favor of the authorities. Stage was erected in the park, where several political leaders of Party of Regions have been delivering their speeches to protesters. They have been calling to defend the country from division and from the chaos created by the oppositional forces and by the protesters on Euromaidan. It’s worth mentioning that the speakers of pro-government rally addressed citizens of Ukraine exclusively on Russian language, which is pretty strange.

Pro-Yanukovich meeting though looked more like an organized event, as the people have been brought to Kyiv in an organized way, they have been holding symbolic of Ukraine, Party of Regions and the banners of industrial production, their meeting have been patrolled by the police, while the police forces aren’t present on Independence Square and in its vicinity.

Police blocked the streets leading to Parliament and Cabinet
of Ministers
(Image: Sergiy Andrushko)
In addition to that several journalists including the reports of Ukrainian Hromadske TV (Citizen TV, civil media project created by independent journalists to cover the events during the revolution on Ukraine) tried to interview the participants of the meeting in order to get some information about who these people are, where they came from and what they are standing for. The interviewed people reacted aggressively or turned their backs and covered their faces. Several supporters of regime gave interviews to the journalists, where they said they are from Kyiv, but after several answers of them it became clear they don’t even know geography of Kyiv downtown. In addition to that they couldn’t formulate clearly what are they supporting here and what is the purpose of this meeting.

As for other governmental buildings, protesters continue to block them holding sit-ins in front of them. Thus Cabinet of Ministers remains surrounded by protesters. But in the morning protesters have made strategic mistake in blocking the building and entrances to it, so the police managed to take a few side entrances, and ministers could took into the building.

Cabinet of Ministers was working on Wednesday according to the plans, stated later Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. In his speech during the meeting of ministers he called on the opposition to stop the protests and escalation of the situation and to come back to work, as these ongoing protests disrupt economical situation in Ukraine. He even warned that protests could cause problems with social payments for the citizens. Mr. Azarov also confirmed that the negotiations with EU regarding the amendments of the Association Agreement and the financial compensational package for Ukraine will resume in the nearest future. However, Maja Kosjancic, official spokesperson of EU Catherine Ashtone, denied yesterday the reports of Ukrainian government regarding the meeting and negotiations and stated EU isn’t ready to hold negotiations in this format.
Tents city on Independence Square
(Image: Euromaidan)

Meanwhile Prosecution has held trial of nine men arrested on Sunday near Bankova Street (President’s office) and accused of committing provocations and inciting violence. All of them didn’t take part in the clashes, what is seen on numerous videos. They didn’t resist police and “Berkut” while the riot police personnel have been brutally and violently beating them. There are a lot of video and photo evidences of it as many Ukrainian and foreign journalists were presented on the scene, many of them received serious injuries too. Though all of the convicted persons have received two months detention due to the investigation and court procedures. They face the possibility of getting 3-7 years in jail.

The convicted persons, all of them seriously injured, are being held in the prison hospital, with no access to any connection with their relatives. The court process was full of serious violations as even defense team of the convicted persons wasn’t allowed in the courtroom.
Massive column of demonstrators arrived today to the Ministry of Interior to protest these decisions and the recent violence committed by the police and special forces and demanded resignation of Minister of Interior and punishment of the police and “Berkut” commanders and those who has been beaten the protesters. Protesters have gathered also in front of the court building where the trial was held.

Victor Yanukovich in China
(Image: Unian)
The situation in the country escalates also with many conflicting reports and horrible information circulating in internet and media, such as reports about deployment of the internal forces and tanks to Kyiv in order to disperse the protesters, deployment of Russian military troops, bloody scenario of Maidan’s dispersal with the light and cameras cut off in the center of city etc. These reports escalate the tense situation.

In addition to that current ruling powers and oppositions started to accuse each other in escalating of the conflicts and creating the provocations. Party of regions claim current situation is beneficial to the opposition and the violent clashes have been ordered by them in order to create chaos in the country and destabilize situation. Opposition in its turn accused the authorities if pushing the country to the civil war. One of the oppositional leaders, Arseny Yatsenyuk, even stated today that the authorities could prepare terrible provocations in order to justify violent dispersal of the protests.

Meanwhile the protests are ongoing and people continue to control most of the key administrative institutions in Kyiv. Tens of thousands are protesting on Independence Square, there are several tents erected on the square.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov in Parliament
(Image: TSN)
The crisis is deepening with the authorities refusing to hear to demands of people and opposition refusing to change its tactics and propose real plan of resolving the crisis in a peaceful way and in the lawful field.

Communist Party of Ukraine has been calling for the necessity of organizing of the national referendum in order to see the aspirations of Ukrainian people, and only after that to dismiss the government and talk about structural changes in power.

Several political scientists and experts stated also that opposition should continue to pressure the authorities with the peaceful but massive and ongoing protesters blocking the governmental buildings and enabling the work of state’s institutions. People should remain in the streets delivering their demands. In this case authorities will have no choice but to listen to these demands.

Some of the experts recommend holding negotiations between the current power and oppositional forces in order to find the common solution of the deep crisis and to avoid violent scenarios.

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister Sergiy Arbuzov just declared government is ready to negotiate early parliamentary and presidential elections with opposition.