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Friday, January 24, 2014

Ukraine: Second round of the talks between opposition and Yanukovich was held amid clashes and continuation of violence

Protesters and riot police in Kyiv
(Image: Reuters)
Confrontations continue in Ukraine, as the clashes between protesters on Euromaidan and riot police happened during the night. Situation remains extremely tense and needs to be resolved in a peaceful way, state activists, representatives of artists, priests and intellectuals and oppositional leaders.

According to the information of Ministry of Health nearly 160 people have been injured, 2 people were killed, but the doctors working on the field report that only in 22 January there were several hundreds of injured, a lot of them don’t go to the hospitals due to the fears of being detained by the police, as police and special security forces “Berkut” were trying to attack several hospitals in the night attempting to arrest injured protesters. 5 people were killed on 22 January, four of them were killed with the live ammunition, the fifth one was found dead in the forest with the marks of tortures on his body. It was one of the activists kidnapped one day earlier.

New clashes erupted in Grushevskogo Street, leading to the governmental district, in the morning, but one of the oppositional leaders, Vitaly Klichko, went to the policemen and security forces to hold negotiations and urge them to stop violence. Ceasefire till 8 p.m. was agreed between the sides, but protesters have erected new massive barricades and prepared for the possible storming of Maidan.

Burning tyres on the line between protesters and police
(Image: Liga NET)
As for the government’s reaction, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has praised “Berkut” and riot police for their deeds and claimed that shot protesters deserved it as they were extremists and rebels. Later the version about mercenaries from NATO shooting Ukrainian protesters was also expressed by the government. In addition to that Azarov stated that there is no political crisis in the country, situation is totally under control and there are only several hundreds of extremists form three Western Ukrainian governorates clashing with police in Kyiv. Later though, during the speech delivered in Davos, Azarov said that there are attempt of coup d’état in the country and it’s impossible to hold early presidential elections under current circumstances. He also said that some changes are possible in Cabinet of Ministers in February. As for the issue of his possible resignation, he answered that he doesn’t worry about it.

As the situation escalates in Kyiv, threats of imposing state of emergency are very serious, and there were reports about urgent meeting of the MPs of Parliament to vote for state of emergency, but there were not enough signatures for this decision. Though the next voting on this issue could be during the Parliamentary session on 28 January, according to some sources close to Parliament.

Map showing the locations of the recent events
(Image: BBC)
Yanukovich in his turn has assured that state of emergency will not be imposed in Ukraine. He said it during his telephone talk with the President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.

Amid the tense situation and temporary ceasefire between “Berkut”, riot police and protesters, the second round of the negotiations between the opposition and Yanukovich has been held. Talks have been postponed three times, as Yanukovich had some more important meetings and issues than political crisis and killing of people in the capital of Ukraine. Yanukovich’s side was represented by himself and the team participating in the first round of talks: Andriy Klyuev, Olena Lukash and Andriy Portnov. Oppositional forces and Maidan have been represented by three oppositional leaders Arseny Yatsenyuk, Vitaly Klichko and Oleg Tyagnybok.

Negotiations lasted more than four hours and didn’t have significant and decisive results, but some steps have been made.

Vitaly Klichko and Oleg Tyagnybok announced the results of the talks and the plan of the next steps in front of the people in Grushevskyt Street, the site of confrontations, and they are expected to voice these results from the stage of Euromaidan as well.

Yanukovich demonstrated his inflexibility and stubbornness and refused to listen to the demands, but he claimed that the issue of government’s resignation could be considered during the extraordinary session of Parliament.

Line of condrontations
(Image: Liga NET)
According to the oppositional leaders, Yanukovich asked to stop violence from the side of protesters, and the oppositional leaders in their turn demanded to stop violence against the demonstrators, to withdraw “Berkut” and riot police from the streets of Kyiv and stop repressions, kidnappings and arrests of the activists and revolutionaries. It was declared ceasefire between the sides was agreed, and Yanukovich has promised that there will be official statements by him, General Prosecutor Pshonka and Minister of Interior Zakharchenko regarding the recent events and these agreements. In addition to that the mechanism of release of detained activists was also proposed.

Thus, it was decided to hold and extraordinary parliamentary session on Tuesday, 28 January, in order to discuss the situation and political crisis in the country and to find the common solution. The issues of non-confidence to government and its resignation, withdrawal and annulling for the dictatorial 16 January laws and stop of repressions against the Euromaidan activists are expected to be discussed. Yanukovich has already ordered Parliament speaker Volodymyr Rybak to be ready for the parliamentary session. Yanukovich stated that one side of the resolving of crisis is represented by his talks with opposition, but the results of these talks should be implemented through the work of Parliament.

People on Maidan and in the streets reacted emotionally on the statements of oppositional politicians regarding the results of the talks and demanded decisive steps. Opposition in its turn calls for the national strike and mobilization in case the agreements between them and Yanukovich will be broken.

Protesters taking the building of Lviv governor's office
(Image: AP)
Meanwhile massive protests spread beyond Kyiv, as tens of thousands of protesters are continuing to occupy governmental buildings in several governorates of Ukraine. Buildings are seized by protesters, governors of some governorates resign, and police withdraws refusing to obey the orders. Lviv, Rivne, Ternopil, Khmelnitsk governorates are under control of people, where they declared the authority of National People’s Council; Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr, Cherkassy, Sumy and other governorates are under siege. Thus, people refuse to recognize the current government and form revolutionary councils to represent people’s authority.

This fact was really alarming for Ukrainian current government and president and caused the readiness for some compromises, think oppositional leaders.

Though the situation is still hard and escalated, as many people are wounded as a result of the clashes. At least 15 activists were kidnapped and still not found. “Berkut” and riot police were arresting people in the streets and holding them during hours in the police cars, beating and torturing. Terrible video showing “Berkut” soldiers humiliating captured protester whom they’ve stripped naked on the terrible frost and were laughing at him and forced him to pose as they were making pictures and videos of it, went viral and caused a real scandal. Ministry of Interior has apologized for these deeds of policemen, though it’s unclear whether those responsible for it will be punished. The same could be said about numerous cases of kidnappings, arrests and beatings. Dozens of protesters and citizens who even didn’t participate in the protests are being held in the prisons and face trials.

International community is very concerned with the events happening in Ukraine. Western diplomats and politicians claim there could be no relationships with Ukrainian authorities anymore as they were before, thus the relations with Ukrainian government will be revised.

President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has been talking to Yanukovich on the phone urging him to stop violence and escalation and to start negotiation with the opposition. As it was mentioned earlier, Yanukovich promised Mr. Barroso, that state of emergency won’t be imposed.

Barricades on the line of confrontations
(Image: AP)
Ex-President of Poland and one of the heads of EU special mission to Ukraine during the preparation to signing of Association Agreement, Aleksander Kwasniewski, has warned that escalation of the situation in Ukraine could be really very dangerous not only for Ukraine, but for EU as well, and there could be terrible consequences such as economic problems and mass migration. In addition to that there will be moral fault of European governments for the deaths of people in Ukraine, that weren’t stopped and prevented. He called on the sides to stop violence and to start the real, not fictional, dialogue. EU is ready to mediate, added the politician.

Head of OSCE earlier has also stated that negotiations are necessary and that he is ready to become a mediator. European team of politicians and diplomats and representatives of EU institutions is expected to arrive in Kyiv on Friday in order to discuss the situation with Yanukovich and opposition and to help in negotiations.

Yanukovich also had phone talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well. Angela Merkel also urged him to start dialogue and to stop escalation of violence and added that she will meet Yanukovich in the nearest future. US Joe Biden as well had a telephone conversation with Yanukovich urging him to stop violence, as the relations between the two countries could be seriously revised.