Tag Archive: Viktor Yanukovych


Why the Corruption Won’t End

by JEAN-ARNAULT DERENS and LAURENT GESLIN

The Donbass Palace Hotel, off Lenin Square in Donetsk, is the most luxurious in eastern Ukraine. Rooms in this flagship of Rinat Akhmetov’s empire cost around $500 a night, much more than the average monthly wage. Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine, was a close associate of former president Viktor Yanukovych but after the Kiev uprising pragmatically switched his support to the new regime. Besides the hotel and real estate, Akhmetov owns the city’s football team, Shakhtar Donetsk, mines, steelworks and factories. Among the clans of Ukraine’s oligarchy, the largest fortunes have been made in the industrial and mining valley of the Don. This region, made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, was a major centre of mining and industry in the Soviet era.

Donbass still generates a quarter of Ukraine’s foreign currency earnings, even though only 95 mines are still officially active, compared to 230 two decades ago. Over the same period, seven million people have left the country. Soon after independence in 1991, local people faced economic meltdown and the first state mine closures, and began mining illegally. “Round here you only have to dig down a metre to find coal,” said a former miner from Torez, an industrial city near Donetsk named after a French Communist leader (1). In the makeshift tunnels, shored up with wooden props, accidents are common. Yet miners are willing to risk going underground for the prospect of just a few hundred dollars a month. After Yanukovych came to power in 2010, the network of these kopanki (illegal mines) was regulated and controlled.

“Coal from the kopanki was sold cheaply to the state mines, which sold it on at market price,” said Anatoly Akimochkin, vice-president of the Ukraine’s Independent Miners’ Union. As well as these profits, state mines also received government subsidies. “A large part of this money disappeared into the pockets of cronies of the regime,” said Akimochkin. According to expert estimates, 10% of Ukraine’s coal output in recent years has come from illegal mines. Behind this network is the former president’s elder son, Oleksandr Yanukovych, who went into competition with the owners of the privatised mines, led by Akhmetov.

Different deal of the cards

“A revolution? No, it’s just a different deal of the cards,” said sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko, deputy director of the Centre for Society Research in Kiev. A few weeks after Yanukovych’s removal, his frustration was clear: “This government defends the same values as the previous one: economic liberalism and getting rich. Not all rebellions are revolutions. It’s unlikely that the Maidan movement will lead to profound changes that will justify calling it a revolution. The most serious candidate in the presidential election on 25 May is Petro Poroshenko, the ‘chocolate king’ [because of the fortune he made in that industry], one of the richest men in the country.” Even as demonstrators were being shot in the Maidan (Independence Square), the centre of popular anger since 22 November, a bizarre handover of power was being brokered behind closed doors with the powerful businessmen who have now taken control of Ukraine.

Over the past 20 years, Ukraine has experienced a form of development referred to as oligarchic pluralism. Many businessmen who amassed huge fortunes buying up mines and factories privatised cheaply after the fall of the Soviet Union have gone into politics. Oil and gas traders have become ministers or heads of major institutions. Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a leading figure in the 2004 Orange Revolution who was held up in the West as a martyr when she was imprisoned in 2011, made a fortune in the gas industry. A revolving door has developed between business and politics. Some powerful businessmen have played a more discreet role by financing the campaigns of politicians whom they expect to represent their interests. This system, which became the accepted way of doing things under President Leonid Kuchma (1994-2005), assumes constant reconfiguration shaped by the competing interests of the powerful, and their alliances and feuds.

Near the Donbass Palace, on top of an expensive building that houses the headquarters of Metinvest and DTek, two of Akhmetov’s companies, there used to be an illuminated sign advertising Mako, the Swiss-registered holding company through which Yanukovych junior exports Ukrainian coal. A few days after Yanukovych senior fell from power, the sign came down, an indication that the alliance between Akhmetov and the president’s men was over.

After 2010, Yanukovych, long viewed as the political representative of the Donetsk clan’s interests, decided to demonstrate his independence. He appointed men he trusted —members of the “family” — to key state posts. Among them was Serhiy Arbuzov, his personal banker, who was put in charge of the national bank in 2010. He was briefly made prime minister at the height of the crisis on 28 January, after the departure of Mykola Azarov. The president also relied on Vitaliy Zakharchenko, a close friend of his son Oleksandr, whom he put in charge of the tax authorities in December 2010, before promoting him to interior minister. He also favoured the influential Dmytro Firtash, who for a time enjoyed a monopoly on Russian gas imports, before diversifying into chemicals and banking. Zakharchenko has now fled to Russia and Firtash was arrested in Vienna on 13 March.

 

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What Do Ukrainians Really Want?

Ukrainian Democracy: A Barrier to Washington’s Goals

by NICK ALEXANDROV

When Ukraine is the topic, the major U.S. media outlets agree: “Europe and the United States have made a priority of fostering democracy in the former Soviet republics,” David M. Herszenhorn wrote in the New York Times.  The Washington Post asserted that Ukraine is “a country that has been struggling to become a genuine democracy” with help from Western powers, who keep it “from becoming an autocratic Kremlin colony, like neighboring Belarus.”  “Ukraine is the crossroads between a free and an authoritarian Europe,” the Wall Street Journal concurred, while Yale professor Timothy Snyder urged, in a CNN piece, Europe and America to back the Ukrainian protesters—“a chance to support democracy,” he emphasized.  Marvelous.  But in the real world, Ukrainian democracy is not merely something Washington has failed to support, but is actually incompatible with U.S. governmental aims.

U.S. officials are quite open about their opposition to Ukrainian self-determination and well-aware how unpopular Washington’s preferred policies are.  Nearly a decade ago, for example, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Europe met for a hearing on “Ukraine’s Future and U.S. Interests.”  Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE) opened the session, noting that “a recent survey conducted by a center for economic and political research suggests that up to 40 percent of Ukrainians believe that relations with Russia should be a priority.”

 

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Counterpunch

An Imperialist Invasion Without an Imperialist Army

Whither Ukraine?

by MARILYN VOGT-DOWNEY

It’s not just that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was a coward for fleeing in the dead of night from angry and rebellious Ukrainian nationalists in Western Ukraine to what (he hoped) would be a friendlier population in the Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine. Of course, he probably was a coward to run away. However, a coup d’etat had been carried out against him, his government security forces were melting away, and roughnecks with weapons and shields were just outside his door.

But more important than his cowardice is the fact that he is a scoundrel.

He could have easily calmed the rebellion in Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital Kiev early on if he had simply told the crowds the truth about what the Association Agreement with the European Union would mean to their lives and futures, which is one reason he apparently refused to sign it.  His refusal to sign this Agreement on November 21, 2013 has been called the “spark” that led to the current crisis and his overthrow. However, if, for example, he had summarized the terms of only one part of it–the Agreement’s “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area”–and explained what it would mean to the Ukrainian people, he would have severely dampened enthusiasm for this  Agreement. This Free Trade section alone–removing tariff barriers and export duties–would convert Ukraine into one big “free trade zone,” where the anti-environment, anti-labor, and pro-business laws would prevail.

 

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Counterpunch

From Egypt, Ukraine, the Turkish-Syrian border, Cuba and Thailand

How the West Manufactures “Opposition Movements”

by ANDRE VLTCHEK

Government buildings are being trashed, ransacked. It is happening in Kiev and Bangkok, and in both cities, the governments appear to be toothless, too scared to intervene.

What is going on? Are popularly elected administrations all over the world becoming irrelevant; as the Western regime creates and then supports thuggish ‘opposition movements’ designed to destabilize any state that stands in the way of its desire to fully control the planet?

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They are shouting and intimidating those who want to vote for the moderately progressive government that is presently leading Thailand. There is no dispute over the electoral process – voting is generally free, as both international observers and most of the local Election Commission members agree.

Freedom, legitimacy or transparency is not what is at stake now.

 

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MOSCOW — Ukraine’s interim leaders said Monday that the country will need $35 billion in foreign aid over the next two years to avert default and called for an international donors’ conference to craft a rescue plan.

The appeal by acting Finance Minister Yuri Kolobov followed by a day his Russian counterpart’s announcement that Moscow would be cutting off further aid and loan supports to Ukraine until its new transitional leadership is in place and it is clear with whom the Kremlin will be dealing.

Opposition leaders, who have been in control of Kiev since a European Union-brokered pact to quell last week’s violence was signed Friday, have said the new slate of ministers could be decided as early as Tuesday. The new government is unlikely to be as friendly to Moscow, though, as was that of President Viktor Yanukovich, who has been stripped of his office by parliament and has fled Kiev for the Russian-leaning east.

Group of 20 finance ministers met in Sydney, Australia, over the weekend and pledged help for Ukraine once its provisional leadership is in place. Political leaders from the United States, the EU and Russia have urged the opposition figures now in control of Kiev and western Ukraine cities to put together a genuinely inclusive cabinet to represent all segments of Ukraine’s badly divided population.

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The Associated Press

— In his first reaction to the Ukraine crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to consider humanitarian assistance to the Russian-speaking region of Crimea and talk to the West about bailing out Ukraine.

The move was announced by Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a statement carried by Russian news agencies Thursday. No further details were provided except that assistance to Crimea could be offered by some Russian provinces.

 

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Irish Times News

Ukraine requests financial support from IMF

Christine Lagarde to send fact-finding team to Kiev in coming days

Christine Lagarde said a team would go to Kiev to carry out an independent assessment of the economic situation in Ukraine in the coming days. Photograph: Ian Waldie/BloombergChristine Lagarde said a team would go to Kiev to carry out an independent assessment of the economic situation in Ukraine in the coming days. Photograph: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 15:12

Ukrainian officials today notified the International Monetary Fund of the country’s request for financial support, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said in a statement.

“We are ready to respond and, in the coming days, will send an IMF fact-finding team to Kiev to undertake a preliminary dialogue with the authorities,” Ms Lagarde said in a statement.

“This will enable the IMF to make its usual technical, independent assessment of the economic situation in Ukraine and, at the same time, begin to discuss with the authorities the policy reforms that could form the basis of a Fund-supported program.”

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The New Zealand Herald

 

Former Ukraine president turns up in Russia – in a 5-star hotel

 

 

 

The Ukrainia hotel, where Viktor Yanukovych is said to be staying, is seen against the twilight Moscow sky. Photo / AP

The Ukrainia hotel, where Viktor Yanukovych is said to be staying, is seen against the twilight Moscow sky. Photo / AP

 

Ukraine’s fugitive president may be enjoying VIP treatment under Moscow’s protection, said to have been spotted at an opulent five-star hotel and a Kremlin country retreat.

 

But beneath the surface, the embrace has been chilly: State-run TV has portrayed him as a coward who betrayed those who stood by him.

 

The conflicting messages indicate that while Russia still considers him the legitimate president of Ukraine, it is far from happy with his handling of Ukraine’s crisis.

 

Yanukovych made his appeal for protection in a written statement released simultaneously by two Russian state news agencies: “I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists,” he wrote. Shortly afterward, the same agencies quoted an unidentified government official as saying that the request had been “satisfied on the territory of Russia.” The ITAR-Tass and RIA Novosti news agencies often are used by the government to issue official statements……

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How did Yanukovych get to Russia?

It is still far from clear. Ukraine issued an arrest warrant for him and border guards were instructed to stop him leaving. Most likely he was evacuated out of Kiev by helicopter at the weekend and taken to pro-Russia Crimea, where Russia has its Black Sea naval base in the city of Sevastopol. He could then have inconspicuously travelled by boat onto Russian territory proper.

“I think he came from Sevastopol on a vessel,” said Konovalov.

From Russia’s Black Sea coast he could have moved on anywhere in the country. Unconfirmed reports had sighted him at a Moscow hotel or an out-of-town health spa.

However Russian news agencies said late Thursday he will give a news conference Friday in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don which lies close to the Black Sea, making it unlikely that he has been to Moscow……

 

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Ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych reported to be in Russia

Deposed president who still claims to be leader to hold press conference in southern city of Rostov on Friday
The Russian government sanatorium where Viktor Yanukovych was reportedly staying on Wednesday

The Russian government sanatorium where ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was reportedly staying on Wednesday night. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, has surfaced in Russia and is still claiming to be the legitimate ruler of his country, according to Russian media reports quoting top government sources.

“Given that President Yanukovych appealed to Russian authorities with a request to guarantee his personal safety, that request has been granted on Russian territory,” a government source told Interfax.

An appeal to Ukrainian citizens from Yanukovych said: “My allies and I were being threatened with revenge and so I was forced to ask the Russian authorities to guarantee my personal safety from the actions of extremists.”

Yanukovych said he continues to believe he is the legitimate president of Ukraine and wants to achieve a compromise that would enable Ukraine to exit the crisis. The deposed president called the current session of Ukraine’s parliament – which among other things is electing a new government – “illegitimate”.

“There is an orgy of extremism on the streets of many cities,” wrote the president. “I am certain that in these conditions all the decisions taken [by the parliament] will be ineffective and not carried out.

“In this situation, I officially declare that I am determined to fight to the end for the implementation of important compromise agreements that will bring Ukraine out of the deep political crisis.”

On Thursday evening it was announced that Yanukovych would give a press conference on Friday afternoon in the southern Russian city of Rostov on Don – contradicting earlier claims that he was in the Moscow region staying at a top government sanatorium that has previously hosted officials such as Leonid Brezhnev and Boris Yeltsin. No other details about the press conference were immediately available.

 

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NBC News

 

Ousted Viktor Yanukovych: I’m Ukraine’s ‘Legitimate Leader’

MOSCOW – Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych still sees himself as his country’s legitimate head of state, according to a statement by him published by Russian news agencies on Thursday.

Yanukovych fled his residence near the Kiev on Saturday after months of deadly protests and a deal with his opposition giving many of his powers over to parliament.

NBC News was unable to confirm a report by Russian news organization RBK that Yanukovych had been spotted in Moscow. But in his statement published by Interfax and Itar Tass, the Kremlin-backed former leader said he has asked for protection from Russia “to ensure my personal security from extremists’ actions.”

Interfax quoted a source as saying Russia had granted this appeal. NBC News could not immediately verify that claim.

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Irish Times

Parliament votes to send Yanukovich to be tried by the International Criminal Court

A member of a civilian defence unit warms up by a fire at Independence Square in Kiev today. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/The New York TimesA member of a civilian defence unit warms up by a fire at Independence Square in Kiev today. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/The New York Times

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 16:12

   

Ukraine’s acting president warned today about the increasing signs of signs of separatism and threats to the country’s territorial integrity.

Speaking following a meeting of security chiefs in the Crimea today acting president Oleksander Turchinov said anyone who found responsible for separatist moves should be punished.

Protesters on the southern peninsula have staged rallies against Ukraine’s new leaders since president Viktor Yanukovich was ousted.

Earlier today Ukraine’s parliament voted to send Mr Yanukovich to be tried by the International Criminal Court for “serious crimes” committed during violent anti-government protests in which scores were killed.

A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Mr Yanukovich, who was ousted on Saturday and is now on the run, to police violence against protesters which it said had led to the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states.

The Hague-based court said it would need a request from the government of Ukraine giving it jurisdiction over the deaths.

With early elections set for May 25th, one of Ukraine’s most prominent opposition figures, retired world boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, confirmed he would run for president.

Mr Yanukovich was indicted for “mass murder” on Monday over the shooting of demonstrators and is now on the wanted list, having last been seen at Balaclava in Crimea, near Russia’s Sevastopol naval base.

An aide said be on the run with Mr Yanukovich was shot in the leg, his spokesman said. It was not clear where the aide, Andriy Klyuev, was, or whether he with the fugitive leader.

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New Ukraine leader pleads for unity as protesters in Crimea shout ‘Russia, Russia’ and tensions grow between Kiev and Moscow in wake of ‘revolution’

  • Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism
  • Pro-Russian crowds gather in southern region of Crimea
  • Visiting Russian politician says it will protect compatriots from danger
  • Moscow faces claims it colluded in death of dozens of demonstrators
  • Former Kremlin advisor warns Moscow could annexation Crimea next week
  • Vladimir Putin ‘sweeping aside Western warnings and preparing troops’
  • Ousted president Viktor Yanukovich is still on the run from authorities
  • But it is revealed a former aide, also a fugitive, has been shot in the leg

By Will Stewart and Leon Watson

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Ukraine’s new leader has made a desperate plea for unity as experts warn Russia might annex the increasingly tense region of Crimea.

Interim president Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. It came as UK and US foreign ministers met to discuss emergency financial assistance for the country.

Addressing the country’s parliament, Mr Turchynov said he would meet law enforcement agencies to discuss the risk of separatism in regions with large ethnic Russian populations.

Separatism was a ‘serious threat’, he said.

Plea: Interim President Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism in the Ukrainian parliament today

Plea: Interim President Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism in the Ukrainian parliament today

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, chaired a security council meeting in the Kremlin today, attended by among others the foreign secretary, Sergey Lavrov (second from left). Its conclusions were not made public but tensions between Moscow and Kiev have mounted amid claims of Russian involvement in the killings of protesters whose demonstrations led to the removal of Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow.

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, chaired a security council meeting in the Kremlin today, attended by among others the foreign secretary, Sergey Lavrov (second from left). Its conclusions were not made public but tensions between Moscow and Kiev have mounted amid claims of Russian involvement in the killings of protesters whose demonstrations led to the removal of Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow.

Political heavyweight: Ukrainian opposition leader and head of the UDAR (Punch) party Vitaly Klitschko has revealed he will run for the presidentcy

Political heavyweight: Ukrainian opposition leader and head of the UDAR (Punch) party Vitaly Klitschko has revealed he will run for the presidentcy

Mr Turchynov was speaking as tensions mounted between Kiev and Moscow in the wake of former president Vyktor Yanukoych being removed from power and fleeing the Ukrainian capital.

In the latest escalation, Ukraine’s parliament called for the former president to be put in front of the International Criminal Court at the Hague for ‘human rights abuses’, including ordering the deaths of protesters in Kiev who eventually prompted him to flee and be deposed.

One MP claimed there was a ‘smoking gun’ which linked the deaths of the protesters directly to the Kremlin, with a former Russian intelligence officer helping direct operations which lead to the death of more than 80 demonstrators.

The MP, Hennadiy Moskal, a former deputy interior minister, said he had found the evidence at the interior ministry and in files at the SBU, the secret police in the country.

‘The Interior Ministry and the SBU were assisted in the preparations for these special operations by the former deputy head of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate who lived in the Kiev hotel (his accommodation and meals were paid for by the SBU),” said Moskal.

“All the information regarding this Russian will be handed over to the PGO, [the Hague court’s prosecutor general’s office] and the investigation will reveal the extent of his guilt.”

The suggestion of Russian involvement in the deaths will only increase tensions – particularly over the Crimea, the majority-Russian area where the Kremlin’s Black Sea naval fleet is based, and where it is thought Yanukoych is in hiding.

 In Sevastapol, the home port of the Russian fleet, the local mayor was forced to quit after removing a Russian flag, and replaced by Aleksei Chaliy, a pro-Moscow politician after a meeting at which people shouted ‘Russia, Russia’ and: ‘A Russian mayor for a Russian city.’

There are widespread fears in Ukraine that Russia will move to annex the Crimea, which was added to the then Soviet republic of Ukraine in 1954 and where Ukrainians are in a minority.

Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of the Moscow parliament used a visit to the Crimea to say that Russia will protect its compatriots there if their lives are in danger.

Slutsky, speaking at a meeting with local activists, did not detail what that might involve, but a former Kremlin advisor warned a Russian annexation of Sebastopol could happen within a week.

Likening the situation to Nazi Germany’s takeover of Austria, Andrey Illarionov said a furious Russian president Vladimir Putin is sweeping aside Western warnings and putting troops on alert.

A Russian flag is seen flying outside the state and city administration building in the Crimean city of Sevastopol

A Russian flag is seen flying outside the state and city administration building in the Crimean city of Sevastopol

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Begging for forgiveness, the riot police blamed for dozens of deaths in Kiev: ‘Brutal’ security forces get down on their knees but are greeted with shouts of ‘shame’

  • Extraordinary scenes in Lviv involved Berkut elite anti-riot force
  • The officers had returned from fighting protesters in the capital
  • Crowds greeted them with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’
  • But in Odessa and Crimea, returning Berkut police have been cheered
  • Also revealed some police have disappeared along with weapons

By Will Stewart

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Riot police in Ukraine fell to their knees to ask for forgiveness for their colleagues who shot and beat antigovernment protesters in the recent Kiev massacre.

The extraordinary scenes in Lviv involved the Berkut elite anti-riot force whose members had returned from duty in the capital.

They apologised on a stage in front of pro-Europe protesters.

 

Riot police kneel as they apologize to Lviv residents for taking part in an operation against anti-government protesters in Kiev

Riot police kneel as they apologize to Lviv residents for taking part in an operation against anti-government protesters in Kiev

The officers told locals that they did not beat protesters, during a rally in central Lviv

The officers told locals that they did not beat protesters, during a rally in central Lviv

Officers from Lviv Berkut Special Police Unit beg people of Ukraine to forgive them

Officers from Lviv Berkut Special Police Unit beg people of Ukraine to forgive them

Returning from duty in Kiev, crowds greeted them with chants of 'Shame!' and 'Tribunal'

Returning from duty in Kiev, crowds greeted them with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’

‘I am asking you to forgive us,’ said an officer who stood in front of other men. In memory of those who were killed, we want to kneel down.’

The officers were greeted with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’ but they stressed they had not killed or beaten people themselves.

 Today it was revealed that some Berkut riot police personnel have disappeared along with weapons.
Begging for forgiveness: Members of Berkut anti-riot unit prepare to leave their barracks in Kiev

Begging for forgiveness: Members of Berkut anti-riot unit prepare to leave their barracks in Kiev

Interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the officers were alarmed at the prospect of an investigation into their conduct on Independence Square when dozens of protesters were killed last week.

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Yanukovych’s colossal ‘cottage’ by the sea dwarfs presidential palace.

Published: February 25, 2014, 4:02 pm
Updated: 35 mins ago

Ukraine

Lapsi, Ukraine, February 25, 2014 — A partial view of a staggering 8,000 square metre residence that deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was building for himself along the Black Sea in the restive Crimean Peninsula. Work stopped on the project on Monday when workers figured out that Yanulovych, who is facing charges of mass murder, would never pay them.

LAPSI, Ukraine — Ukrainians were stunned by the opulent grandeur of Viktor Yanukovych’s presidential palace when the doors were thrown open last Saturday, hours after the deposed leader fled for parts unknown ahead of formal charges this week accusing him of mass murder.

If those who gazed in wonder at the palace in Kyiv could have traveled safely to the primarily Russian Crimean Peninsula — where ethnic Ukrainians from the north are cursed and reviled at the moment for having toppled the old, pro-Moscow order — they might have had an even bigger shock at what is being built on a remote mountainside.

Another grotesque monument to Yanukovych’s vanity and venality, with a commanding view of the sea, has been slowly rising for the past three years about 30 kilometres from the port city of Sevastopol. Or at least it had been until workers abruptly began to cart away building materials on Monday because, as several of them said, “nobody has told us anything, but we understand that everything is now frozen and we won’t get paid.”

A handful of Ukrainians and journalists was allowed into the massive work site Tuesday. What they saw was a villa so colossal that, at a guess, it was four or five times the size of the huge residence in Kyiv that provoked such disgust when the common folk were allowed inside to gawk.

A Russian website guessed that the “cottage” by the sea was about 8,000 square metres. It looked to be about six months to a year from being completed. But it was already possible to see that the basketball court-sized living room was about 20 metres high and includes a massive fireplace. Many of the floors have a network of wires running underneath to heat them.

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The Kansas City Star.

Yanukovych crosses Ukraine, looking for refuge

By JIM HEINTZ

Associated Press

— With his allies deserting him and his once-firm presidential power disintegrating, Viktor Yanukovych has fled Ukraine’s capital by car and aircraft, heading for the parts of the country where he is most likely to find friends, according to the acting head of the police.

On Monday, as Yanukovych’s exact whereabouts remained unknown, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakhov posted on his official Facebook page a rundown of where Yanukovych has been sighted since leaving Kiev on Friday.

His departure came hours after signing an agreement on resolving Ukraine’s political crisis that reduced his powers and was seen by many as a tacit admission of defeat.

Avakhov said a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yanukovych and several other officials for the “mass killing of civilians,” stemming from the deaths of protesters in Kiev.

Here’s a look at Yanukovych’s movements since Friday, based on one TV appearance and the account by Avakhov:

A TV INTERVIEW IN KHARKIV

Yanukovych surfaced Saturday in the city of Kharkiv, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Kiev, in the heartland of his base of support. In a videotaped interview, he bitterly likened opposition protesters to Nazis and declared he was still president and would not leave the country. That was his last public appearance.

FOILED AT THE AIRPORT IN DONETSK

From Kharkiv, Avakhov said Yanukovych, his chief of staff Andrit Klyuyev and his security guards flew Saturday by helicopter to the airport in Donetsk, his hometown, 230 kilometers (140 miles) to the south. There, he and his contingent transferred to two Falcon business jets and tried to fly off, but were prevented from leaving by border guards.

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CTV News

Seeking Viktor Yanukovych: A rundown of sightings in Ukraine

Jim Heintz, The Associated Press
Published Monday, February 24, 2014 11:10AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 24, 2014 5:59PM EST

KYIV, Ukraine — With his allies deserting him and his once-firm presidential power disintegrating, Viktor Yanukovych has fled Ukraine’s capital by car and aircraft, heading for the parts of the country where he is most likely to find friends, according to the acting head of the police.

On Monday, as Yanukovych’s exact whereabouts remained unknown, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakhov posted on his official Facebook page a rundown of where Yanukovych has been sighted since leaving Kyiv on Friday.

His departure came hours after signing an agreement on resolving Ukraine’s political crisis that reduced his powers and was seen by many as a tacit admission of defeat.

Avakhov said a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yanukovich and several other officials for the “mass killing of civilians,” stemming from the deaths of protesters in Kyiv.

Here’s a look at Yanukovych’s movements since Friday, based on one TV appearance and the account by Avakhov:

A TV interview in Kharkiv

Yanukovych surfaced Saturday in the city of Kharkiv, 400 kilometres east of Kyiv, in the heartland of his base of support. In a videotaped interview, he bitterly likened opposition protesters to Nazis and declared he was still president and would not leave the country. That was his last public appearance.

Foiled at the airport in Donetsk

From Kharkiv, Avakhov said Yanukovych, his chief of staff Andrit Klyuyev and his security guards flew Saturday by helicopter to the airport in Donetsk, his hometown, 230 kilometres to the south. There, he and his contingent transferred to two Falcon business jets and tried to fly off, but were prevented from leaving by border guards. Avakhov did not explain the basis for guards blocking the planes’ departure. Yanukovych spent a few hours in a state residence and then left about 10 p.m. in a convoy of automobiles, Avakhov said.

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The Star.com

Oleksandr Turchinov, Ukraine’s interim leader, said that a new government should be place Thursday.


An anti-Yanukovych protester holds a Ukrainian flag in Kyiv's Independence Square on Tuesday.

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Marko Drobnjakovic / AP

An anti-Yanukovych protester holds a Ukrainian flag in Kyiv’s Independence Square on Tuesday.

KYIV, UKRAINE—Ukraine’s new authorities navigated tricky political waters Tuesday, launching a new presidential campaign, working on a new government and trying to seek immediate financial help from the West.

Yet protests in the country’s pro-Russian region of Crimea and the shooting of a top aide to fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych — a man despised by protesters — have raised fears of divisions and retaliation.

Andriy Klyuyev, the chief of staff for Yanukovych until this weekend, was wounded by gunfire Monday and hospitalized, spokesman Artem Petrenko told The Associated Press on Tuesday. It wasn’t clear where in Ukraine the shooting took place.

At the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, lawmakers delayed the formation of a new government until Thursday, reflecting the political tensions and economic challenges the country faces after Yanukovych fled the capital and went into hiding.

Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine’s interim leader, is now nominally in charge of this strategic country of 46 million whose ailing economy faces a possible default and whose loyalties are sharply torn between Europe and longtime ruler Russia.

Law enforcement agencies have issued an arrest warrant for Yanukovych over the killing of 82 people, mainly protesters, last week in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history. The president fled after signing a deal Friday with opposition leaders to end months of violent clashes between protesters and police.

Parliament on Tuesday adopted a resolution urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to bring Yanukovych and other top Ukrainian officials to justice for the violent crackdown on protesters.

The protests erupted after Yanukovych’s abrupt decision in November to reject an agreement to strengthen ties with the European Union and instead sought a bailout loan from Moscow. But they grew into a massive movement demanding less corruption and greater human rights.

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Interim government signals that it will push for European integration as Russia recalls ambassador for ‘consultation’

Anti government protest in Ukraine

A portrait of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is seen during a rally on Independence Square in Kiev on Sunday. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

Western governments are scrambling to contain the fallout from Ukraine‘s weekend revolution, pledging money, support and possible EU membership, while anxiously eyeing the response of Russia‘s president, Vladimir Putin, whose protege has been ousted.

Seemingly the biggest loser in the three-month drama’s denouement, the Kremlin has the potential to create the most mischief because of Ukraine’s pro-Russian affinities in the east and south, and its dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Acting president Oleksander Turchinov said on Sunday night that Ukraine’s new leaders wanted relations with Russia on a “new, equal and good-neighbourly footing that recognises and takes into account Ukraine’s European choice”.

But the tension between the Kremlin and the interim government was underlined when Russia recalled its ambassador to Ukraine on Sunday for “consultations” and to “analyse the situation from all sides”, the foreign ministry said.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday, where she is expected to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy.

A woman pays her respects at a memorial to anti-government protesters in Kiev, Ukraine

A woman pays her respects at a memorial to killed anti-government protesters in Kiev. Photograph: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

With the whereabouts of the former president Viktor Yanukovych still uncertain, the Ukrainian parliament legitimised his downfall, giving interim presidential powers to an ally of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former PM who was released from jail on Saturday. Oleksandr Turchinov said the parliament should work to elect a government of national unity by Tuesday, before preparations begin for elections planned for 25 May.

Yanukovych appeared on television from an undisclosed location on Saturday night, claiming he was still president and comparing the protesters to Nazis, but he continued to haemorrhage support on Sunday; even the leader of his parliamentary faction said he had betrayed Ukraine, and given “criminal orders”.

Western leaders, while welcoming the unexpected turn of events in Kiev, are worried about the country fracturing along pro-Russian and pro-western lines. They are certain to push for a new government that is as inclusive as possible to replace the collapsed and discredited administration of Yanukovych, who vanished within hours of signing an EU-mediated settlement with opposition leaders on Friday.

“France, together with its European partners, calls for the preservation of the country’s unity and integrity and for people to refrain from violence,” said Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister.

British chancellor George Osborne said early on Monday that the UK was standing ready to help the country through schemes set up by the IMF and European Union.

“It’s very, very early days, early hours, but the people of Ukraine seem to have demonstrated their wish to take their country into the future, to have stronger links with Europe, and I don’t think we should be repelling that, we should be embracing that,” he said speaking to journalists in Singapore.

“We should be there ready to provide financial assistance through organisations like the IMF, and of course a lot of this will take the form of loans and the like, but there will be good investments in the economy of Ukraine”.

Putin, preoccupied with the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, has not yet commented publicly on the violence of the past week and Yanukovych’s flight from the capital. Angela Merkel phoned him on Sunday to press for assurances on Russia’s reaction. Susan Rice, the national security adviser to Barack Obama, warned that Moscow would be making a “grave mistake” if it sent military aid to Ukraine.

People and protesters roam the garden in front of the mansion of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's residency in Mezhygirya, near Kiev.

Protesters roam the garden in front of the mansion of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s home in Mezhygirya, near Kiev. Photograph: Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images

“There are many dangers,” said William Hague, the foreign secretary. “We don’t know, of course, what Russia’s next reaction will be. Any external duress on Ukraine, any more than we’ve seen in recent weeks … it really would not be in the interests of Russia to do any such thing.”

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The Washington Times

The Washington Times

By Maria Danilova and Yuras Karmanau

Associated Press

Enlarge Photo

Photo by: Efrem Lukatsky

People lay flowers and lit candles at one of the barricades heading to Independence Square,Kiev, the epicenter of the country’s recent unrest, on a mourning day Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine’s acting government issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s acting government issued an arrest warrant Monday for President Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters who stood up for months against his rule. Russia sharply questioned its authority, calling it an “armed mutiny.”

Yanukovych himself has reportedly fled to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a pro-Russian area in Ukraine.

Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial, after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and family and cracked down on protesters. Anger boiled over last week after government snipers killed scores of protesters in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.

The turmoil has turned this strategically located country of 46 million inside out over the past few days. The parliament speaker is now nominally in charge of a country whose ailing economy is on the brink of default and whose loyalties are sharply torn between Europe and longtime ruler Russia.

Russia and the European Union appeared to be taking opposing sides in Ukraine’s new political landscape.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev questioned the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian authorities on Monday. According to Russian news agencies, he said the acting authorities have come to power as a result of an “armed mutiny,” so their legitimacy is causing “big doubts.”

In Brussels, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly referred to parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov as the “interim president” and said Turchinov will meet with Monday visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Kiev.

Turchinov said he hopes to form a new coalition government by Tuesday.

Ukraine’s acting interior minister, Arsen Avakhov, said on his official Facebook page that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yanukovych and several other officials for the “mass killing of civilians.”

At least 82 people, primarily protesters, were killed in clashes in Kiev last week.

Yanukovych set off a wave of protests by shelving an agreement with the European Union in November and turning instead for a $15 billion bailout loan from Russia. Within weeks, the protests expanded to include outrage over corruption and human rights abuses, leading to calls for Yanukovych’s resignation.

After signing an agreement Friday with the opposition to form a unity government, Yanukovych fled Kiev for his pro-Russian power base in eastern Ukraine. Avakhov said he tried to fly out of Donetsk but was stopped then went to Crimea on Sunday.

Yanukovych then freed his official security detail and drove off to an unknown location, turning off all forms of communication, Avakhov said.

Yanukovych has disappeared,” he said.

Security has been tightened across Ukraine’s borders, the Interfax news agency quoted the State Border Guard service as saying.

Avakhov published a letter that he said was from Yanukovych, dated Monday, in which he gave up his security guard. Yanukovych’s aides and spokespeople could not be reached Monday to verify the reported letter — they have been rapidly distancing themselves from him as his hold on power disintegrates.

Activist Valeri Kazachenko said Yanukovych must be arrested and brought to Kiev’s main square for trial.

“He must answer for all the crimes he has committed against Ukraine and its people,” he said, as thousands continued to flock to the area to light candles and lay flowers where dozens were shot dead during clashes with police last week. “Yanukovych must be tried by the court of the people right here in the square.”

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Medvedev accuses Ukraine of mutiny

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Dmitry Medvedev has questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine’s acting government

Russia has questioned the authority of Ukraine’s acting government, with prime minister Dmitry Medvedev saying the country’s acting authorities have come to power as a result of an ‘armed mutiny’.

Ukraine’s acting government has issued an arrest warrant for president Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters who stood up for months against his rule.

Yanukovych himself has reportedly fled to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a pro-Russian area in Ukraine.

Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial, after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and family and cracked down on protesters. Anger boiled over last week after government snipers killed scores of protesters in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.

Ukraine’s parliament speaker is now nominally in charge of a country whose ailing economy is on the brink of default and whose loyalties are sharply torn between Europe and long-time ruler Russia.

Russia and the European Union appear to be taking opposing sides in Ukraine’s new political landscape.

Medvedev has questioned the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian authorities. He said the acting authorities have come to power as a result of an “armed mutiny”, so their legitimacy is causing “big doubts”.

In Brussels, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly referred to parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov as the “interim president” and said Turchinov will meet with visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Kiev.

Turchinov said he hopes to form a new coalition government by Tuesday.

Ukraine’s acting interior minister, Arsen Avakhov, said on his official Facebook page that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yanukovych and several other officials for the “mass killing of civilians.”

At least 82 people, primarily protesters, were killed in clashes in Kiev last week.

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KIEV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian parliament appealed Tuesday to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to try ousted President Viktor Yanukovich and other officials on charges of crimes against humanity.

The parliament passed a measure seeking an international trial of the officials for actions “which led to especially dire consequences and mass murder of Ukrainian citizens in the course of the peaceful protest actions in the period from Nov. 21, 2013, to Feb. 22, 2014,” the UNIAN news agency reported.

The political crisis in Ukraine, the worst since the country gained independence in 1991, turned especially violent last week when at least 100 people were killed, many of them believed to have been shot by snipers, and thousands were injured.

The measure adopted Tuesday named, in addition to Yanukovich, as parliament is known, named such top state officials as former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, both of whom are believed to be in hiding somewhere in Ukraine.

The parliament, known as the Supreme Rada, also asked that an International Criminal Court investigator decide on charging other Ukraine officials after studying evidence in the case.

The declaration by parliament said that law enforcement agencies in Ukraine assaulted demonstrators using clubs, tear gas, stun grenades and firearms on orders from top state officials who, the statement said, had exceeded and abused their powers.

Riot police inflicted bodily harm, used water cannons against protesters in subfreezing temperatures and forced some to stand naked outside, the document said.

“A typical sign of that period were kidnappings and disappearances of people, illegal detentions of them when they were forcefully taken outside to desolated places with an aim of being tortured and killed,” the statement said.

While the allegations are being made to the international court, a case is also being considered by a district court in Kiev, the deputy speaker of parliament, Ruslan Koshulinsky, said.

 

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