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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Clashes in Ukrainian capital continue as negotiations are in a deadlock and dictatorial laws put in effect

Clashes in Kyiv capital
(Image: Radio Svoboda)
Situation in Ukrainian capital remains extremely tense and escalates with every hour as “president” Yanukovich failed to appear for the talks between his “government” and representatives of the oppositional forces, and riot police and security forces are still in the streets.

Violent clashes erupted between protesters and police and security forces blocking the governmental district and Grushevsky Street leading to the key governmental building and preventing the peaceful protesters to walk. Radical ultra-right activists united in the Right Sector have started to clash with security forces as tens of thousands of protesters joined them. First clashes erupted on Sunday, 19 January, when birdshots, teargas, sound and smoke bombs and water cannons have been used by riot police and security forces against the demonstrators while the protesters have been throwing rocks, stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails. Clashes continued till Tuesday, 21 January. Hundreds of protesters have been injured, a lot of them with the injuries of eyes, heads and limbs, while Ministry of Interior reports that at least 160 security personnel have been wounded in the clashes.

The rests of the police bus set ablze during the clashes
(Image: Radio Svoboda)
In addition to that the scandalous dictatorial laws of 16 January criminalizing any form of legal protest and actually stripping Ukrainians of their civil and personal rights and freedoms have been published in the official newspapers, despite the promise of Yanukovich that the laws won’t be published until the talks with the opposition won’t finish. The laws though appeared in the newspapers and were officially put in effect since midnight of 22 January 2014. It’s worth mentioning, that not only Ukrainian society, politicians and experts have strongly condemned these laws and have been calling for Yanukovich to veto them, but also representatives of the Western countries including USA and EU urged Yanukovich not to support the dictatorial laws and to stop escalation of the situation. But it didn’t happen, and the laws were put in effect. Several governorates of Ukraine though (mostly Western) have already declared that they refuse to obey these laws.

Fierce clashes continue in Ukrainian capital
(Image: Radio Svoboda)
Though the situation has significantly worsened since Yanukovich declared he is ready for the talks with the opposition. He refused to be present at during the talks and formed special anti-crisis commission headed by Amdriy Klyuev, who is accused by the activists of Euromaidan and opposition of the dispersal of protesters. At the same time the key demands of Euromaidan and its delegates about resignation of the government, stepping down of Yanukovich, withdrawal of special forces from Kyiv, stop the repressions and release the detained political prisoners have been totally ignored by Yanukovich and his authorities, as new military and riot police troops and military technique are being deployed in the capital of Ukraine. Yanukovich’s regime has added to it also the so called “titushki”, half-criminal paid elements being used for provocations and attacks of the protesters. Army of these “titushki” has been storming shops and cafes in Kyiv downtown in the night of 21 January attacking and beating the people. Special units of Euromaidan consisted of the activists and artists have been catching them in the city during the night.

Riot police soldier in Kyiv
(Image: I-Press)
In addition to that Vitaly Zakharchenko, Minister of Interior, has issued a decree on the 20 January allowing security forces to use weapons against the protesters, what sparked anger among the people, as “Berkut” (special security forces units) and riot police are shooting the people with birdshots causing serious injuries.

Repressions and intimidation of the activists and journalists also continue in Kyiv, as Igor Lutsenko, prominent Ukrainian journalist and activist, was kidnapped early in the morning on 21 January together with his colleague. He was found only late in the night and reported the details about his kidnapping.

Police has also arrested dozens of activists accusing them of participating in the mass protests and clashes, and the first trials of these activists have already started in Kyiv and happening with the serious violations, according to the lawyers and human rights observers.

Video of clashes by Espresso TV:
As the situation in Ukraine escalates and fierce clashes continue, there were reports in the media that the Parliament is expected to hold a special meeting on Thursday, 23 January, in order to discuss the possibility of declaring the state of emergency in the country. Secretary of National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine Andriy Klyuev though has declared later that state of emergency won’t be imposed in Ukraine at the current moment as there are no reasons for it.

As for the negotiations to be held between Ukrainian opposition and EWuromaidan representatives and Yanukovich, they seem to be in deadlock as oppositional leaders and Maidan have delivered their demands to Yanukovich through the team of their delegates and demanded Yanukovich to be presented on the talks, but Yanukovich failed to appear and continued to put responsibility for the talks on his “anti-crisis team” headed by Klyuev.

Morning after clashes in Kyiv
(Image: Radio Svoboda)
Vitaly Klichko, one of the prominent oppositional leaders, has arrived in the Administration of President today in order to meet Yanukovich and to negotiate with him, but Yanukovich didn’t appear again. His team of Klyuev, Lukash and Portnov announced that Yanukovich had an important meeting and was very busy and that he would call Klichko later, when he’ll be free. Vitaly Klichko has left the building as he stated many times before that opposition and Maidan are willing to negotiate with Yanukovich himself. Later official website of the “president” has published information that the talks between the opposition and Yanukovich’s team are ongoing and that Mr. KLichko participates in them. Mr. Klichko was outraged by this false information as declared that he withdraws from the negotiations’ process due to the systematical lies and manipulations of Yanukovich and his “government”. Thus, negotiations are in a deadlock.

Opposition is calling on Ukrainian people to gather in Kyiv Independence Square again on 22 January, Day of Unity of Ukraine. Tens of thousands are expected to join the marches.

Meanwhile opposition and activists of Euromaidan have received alarming information about the preparation to the force scenario and dispersal of Maidan and sites of clashes. This information was allegedly received from the trusted sources close to the Defense and Security Council of Ukraine. According to this information, special operation for dispersing the protesters is planned for Tuesday’s night. Nearly eight thousand riot policemen and security forces including “Berkut” are expected to be used for this operation, and special technique is also deployed to the area. Task minimum is dispersing of protesters in Grushevsky Street, where the clashes were ongoing, and control over this street and European Square. Plan maximum includes total dispersal of Euromaidan (Independence Square).
Clasehs in Kyiv
(Image: Radio Svoboda)

Ukrainian “prime minister” Azarov has also stated today in his interview for Russia-24 channel that “government” is ready for the forces scenario if the protests won’t stop.

The situation in Grushevsky Street, the site of the clashes, is relatively calm now, as protesters, opposition and activists of Eutromaidan have been holding negotiations with the commanders of police and security forces urging them not to use force. Ceasefire was declared, but people remain in the lines in front of the riot police cordons and are ready for the possible clashes. Despite the ceasefire they are preparing for the attack and dispersal attempt, thus, the situation is still tense.