EuroMaidan rallies in Ukraine (Jan. 24-25-26 live updates)

UKRAINE-EU-RUSSIA-UNREST-POLITICS

Editor’s Note: Anti-government EuroMaidan demonstrations began in Ukraine on Nov. 21, triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to abandon closer ties with the European Union in favor of Russia, which in December offered him a $15 billion bailout and 33 percent discount on imported natural gas. The demonstrations turned deadly on Jan. 22, when at least three protesters were killed, including two from bullet wounds, during a police assault on the crowd. More than 300 suffered injuries. The tense standoff remains on Hrushevskoho Street near Dynamo Stadium.

Live video coverage from Espreso TV of the EuroMaidan protests can be found here

Protesters storm Ukrainian House near Independence Square

12:26 a.m., Jan. 26  — It’s one of central Kyiv’s biggest exhibition and conference centers, but it’s been used to house police officers during the EuroMaidan demonstrations began on Nov. 21. That’s why EuroMaidan demonstrators want to add it to their growing and impressive collection of real estate seizures — which includes control of Kyiv’s city hall, Trades Union Building and Agriculture Ministry. Shortly after talks between President Viktor Yanukovych and the nation’s opposition leaders failed to reach an agreement, demonstrators stormed Ukrainian House, breaking windows and throwing fireworks in a bid to get inside. The attempt was televised and continuing as of 1 a.m, but it appeared that police were repelling it successfully at this hour. — Brian Bonner

 

 

Anti-government protesters hold makeshift shields and batons in their camp on Independence Square in Kiev on January 25, 2014. The anti-government protests in Ukraine on January 25 spread to the north and east of the country as demonstrators sought to seize regional administration offices that have been occupied in over half a dozen regions in the west. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV

 

Yatseniuk: We don’t believe words, only actions

11:46 p.m., Jan. 25 – Arseniy Yatseniuk, leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna Party gave an ambiguous message to the people who gathered at Independence Square, expecting to hear whether he accepted President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer to become prime minister.

Yatseniuk said he was up to the task, but he didn’t believe to Yanukovych. “We’re not afraid of responsibility, we’re ready to lead the nation to the European Union,” he said, adding that he also demanded release of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. “We don’t believe any of their words, we only believe their actions and results.” He also wants the nation to return to the 2004 constitution, which grants parliament more powers. “Enough of one czar,” he said. He added that Yanukovych was ready to talk to the opposition leaders as mediators between him and EuroMaidan.

“Yanukovych only talked to us because you are here,” he said, calling Jan. 28, when the parliament was going to have the unscheduled meeting as “doomsday.” — Katya Gorchinskaya, Oksana Grytsenko

Tiahnybok sees progress in talks with Yanukovych

11:31 p.m., Jan. 25 — Oleh Tiahnybok, leader of opposition Svoboda Party said President Viktor Yanukovych has already conceded to many demands of EuroMaidan, so the opposition has to continue negotiations with him. He said that in the third round of negotiations the opposition leaders felt a real difference in the mood of those in power. “Why did the authorities start to concede?” he asked the crowd who gathered at Kyiv’s Independence Square. “This is because we here opened the second front, protests are not only happening here in Kyiv, but started off in regions, where people are taking power into their hands,” he said. “To solve the political crisis we have to continue negotiations.”

He said that Yanukovych and his team are currently not ready to cancel the (anti-rally and anti-free speech) laws. “But we have to pressure them into it. This is our clear position: to cancel the law,” he told the people.

“But the question is, do we believe him (Yanukovych)?” he asked.

he crowd shouted no, and Tiahnybok said: “Me neither.”

So Tiahnybok urged people to come to Maidan to put more pressure on the authorities. — Katya Gorchinskaya

Poroshenko ready to renew cobblestones on Hrushevskoho Street after opposition victory

11:20 p.m., Jan. 25 — Lawmaker and businessman Petro Poroshenko said that opposition has to stand united to achieve its goals.

“They gave us a proposal they thought we would turn it down. The condition Vitali (Klitschko) mentioned was that opposition has to take responsibility and take Ukraine to Europe. We’re ready for it,” he told the participants of EuroMaidan rally.

“I promise after the victory to renew the cobblestones on Hrushevskoho Street within a day, and get rid of Dynamo Stadium,” Poroshenko told the crowd at Independence Square. — Katya Gorchinskaya

Klichko lays out Yanukovych’s offer

10:33 p.m., Jan. 25 — Vitai Klitschko, leader of the UDAR party, told participants of the EuroMaidan rally in Kyiv that the opposition refused the latest offer of President Viktor Yanukovych, but was ready to continue negotiations.

“Yanukovych agreed to many of our demands. On others, we will continue to look for compromise,” Klitschko said. He said that Yanukovych agreed to release of all imprisoned activists, work to return the constitution of 2004 and dismiss the government, but under certain conditions. Yanukovych, however, didn’t agree to cancel anti-rally laws but only to amend them. Klitschko added that the opposition insisted on: 1. cancellation of controversial laws 2. presidential election set already for this year.

“Our demands are presidential elections this year. And we are not stepping back. We are keeping our positions on Maidan and in the regions,” Klitschko said. “Negotiations will continue, and we will not succumb to any provocations.” — Oksana Grytsenko, Katya Gorchinskaya

SBU officer accused of breaking windows of a right-wing activist

9:55 p.m., Jan. 25 — SBU colonel from Ternopil Oblast Hryhoriy Maheria is alleged to have broken the windows to the house of Vasyl Labaychuk, leader of Ukraine’s right wing organization Tryzub. The video made by Tryzub activists and posted on YouTube on Jan. 20 features the SBU officer caught be Tryzub’s activists in his car near the house. Tryzub activists accuse Maheria in breaking the windows. The colonel denies the allegation aired by activists in the video he was involved in breaking the windows. When asked what brought him there he said he “does not know” and “got lost.” While looking through the man’s stuff in the car they found an ID belonging to Maheria who works in the SBU division in Ternopil Oblast. “You are animals,” said the officer as activists looked through his stuff. It also shows the SBU officer and his ID being handed over to Ihor Sahan, head of the police department in Zbarazh region in Ternopil Oblast who came to the spot.

 

Yanukovych fires his spokeswoman, chief analyst

9:18 p.m., Jan. 25 — President Viktor Yanukovych fired his spokeswoman Daria Chepak, according to the order published on president’s web-site. By separate order Yanukovych also fired Andriy Yermolayev from the post of director of National Institute of Strategic Studies, country’s main state think tank.

Both Chepak and Yermolayev reportedly asked Yanukovych for resignation of Jan. 17 in protest against signing by Yanukovych of anti-protests laws on that day. One more person, who resigned in protest to the controversial bills, was Sergiy Liovochkin, former president’s chief of staff. — Oksana Grytsenko  

Lukash: Yanukovych offers prime minister’s job to Yatseniuk

8 p.m., Jan. 25  — Justice Minister Olena Lukash disclosed details of negotiations between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition, saying that Arseniy Yatseniuk, leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna Party led by imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, has been offered the post of prime minister.

Vitali Klitschko, leader of the opposition UDAR (PUNCH) party, was offered the job of vice prime minister on humanitarian issues, Lukash said, according to news on the presidential website.

Yanukovych also invited Klitschko, who will challenge Yanukovych’s re-election in 2015, to take part in public debates, Lukash said, adding that Klitschko agreed. She said the talks found “agreement on both sides,” Lukash said.

However, the opposition leaders have not yet commented. — Oksana Grytsenko

Opposition leaders finish meeting with Yanukovych

7:15 p.m., Jan. 25 — After more than three hours of negotiations, opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko of UDAR, Arseniy Yatseniuk of Batkivshchyna and Oleh Tiahnybok of the Svoboda Party, left office of President Viktor Yanukovych, the presidential website reported. That was the third meeting since Jan. 19, when Ukraine’s anti-government protests turned into clashes with the police. Andriy Kliuyev, newly appointed presidential chief of staff, his first deputy Andriy Portnov and Minister of Justice were also present at the meeting. — Oksana Grytsenko  

Reward offered for information that leads to whereabouts of AutoMaidan leader

5:53 p.m., Jan. 25 — AutoMaidan leader Dmytro Bulatov, who organized rolling wheels protests that irritated top officials whose homes were targeted for protests, has been missing since Jan. 23. Another AutoMaidan activist, Oleksiy Hrytsenko, said a $100,000 reward is being offered for help in locating Bulatov. “We address all those who know something about Dmytro and also those who kidnapped him. We’ll find out the who’s responsible for that,” Hrytsenko wrote on his facebook page on Jan 25. — Olena Goncharova

 

EuroMaidan’s car caravan protests, which irritated the rich and powerful with rolling protests outside top officials’ homes, has been missing since Jan. 23. He is believed to have been kidnapped and a $100,000 reward is being offered.

 

Zakharchenko thanks everyone who helped free two kidnapped police officers

5:24 p.m., Jan.  25 — Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko statement: “I would like to thank all those who contributed to the release of two police officers who were kidnapped by so-called Maidan Guardian and held in the building of Kyiv City Hall.” Zakharchenko said police officers were tortured and are now hospitalized. Zakharchenko said “peaceful protesters and foreign countries ambassadors” helped in the negotiations. He calls on opposition leaders to show “political maturity and wisdom.” “This is not a war game,” the minister said. He promised the Interior Ministry and police won’t interfere with peaceful protesters if they separate from the radicals and move to another place. — Olena Goncharova

 

Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko

Opposition leaders meet with Yanukovych

4:32 p.m., Jan. 25 — Opposition leaders join Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and members of the working group of political crisis resolution for a meeting in the Presidential Administration.

According to the president’s website, head of President’s Administration and head of the working group Andriy Kliuyev, the president’s advisor Andriy Portnov, Justice Minister Olena Lukash, UDAR party faction leader Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Batkivschyna party Arseniy Yatseniuk and leader of the Svoboda faction Oleh Tiahnybok participate in talks. — Olena Goncharova 

Poroshenko warns of ‘crisis of statehood’

3:28 p.m., Jan. 25  As reports surface of a secret meeting being held by the pro-presidential Party of Regions, opposition member of parliament and millionaire businessman Petro Poroshenko made a please for a peaceful end to the standoff. ”

“In all the years of independence, Ukraine has never faced such a big threat. In Ukraine it’s no longer a political crisis. It’s a crisis of statehood. In danger are the lives of our fellow citizens, civil peace and territorial integrity. Anyone who fails to see it or denies it is either blind or a provocateur. I am writing to parliament members who, due to various circumstances, find themselves in the pro-government faction. On Jan. 16, your vote was used to give way to an escalation of the conflict. I am sure that many of you understand that the concepts of honor, dignity and patriotism are not empty words. Today, the path of peace is not yet closed. We reach out your hand – and expect the same gesture in return. Today, the choice is yours. Tomorrow it will be done for all of us. Together we can reform the parliament and return the country to a normal state. We can give millions of Ukrainians a chance for a better future.” — Katya Gorchinskaya

 

Petro Poroshenko

 

Government regains control of Energy Ministry

3:15 p.m., Jan. 25 — Energy Minister Eduard Stavytsky negotiated an end to the occupation of the ministry building by Spilna Sprava activists, returning it to government hands. Activists had occupied five floors of the building and a basement. The information was confirmed by Spilna Sprava leader Oleksandr Danyliuk. Danyliuk said activists are continuing an external blockaded of the building. He said only employees who are involved in maintaining emergency services will be allowed in the building. Nuclear plants are said to be tightening security. — Olena Goncharova

Headquarters of National Resistance warns Yanukovych off state of emergency

3:31 p.m., Jan. 25 — The Headquarters of the National Resistance Headquarters called on President Viktor Yanukovcyh to stop forceful scenarios in the country. “The National Resistance Headquarters has reliable information that the Presidential Administration has prepared the decision to impose a state of emergency and disperse Maidan protesters. If Viktor Yanukovych signs the decree – what will follow is the government’s war against people. The state of emergency may result into deaths of thousands of people, it split the country and destroy Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state. Today the only way out of critical situation is balance, self-control and responsibility for the sake of our children and our country.” — Olena Goncharova

Akhmetov calls for peaceful solution to solve crisis

3:05 p.m., Jan. 25 — Ukraine’s richest billionaire Rinat Akhmetov’s System Capital Management issued a statement calling for a peaceful end to the political crisis. “Business can’t stand aside when people are dying on the streets. There is a real threat of partition. The political crisis could trigger an economic crisis and as a result, the inevitable decline in living standards. We would like to express deep condolences to the bereaved . There’s only one solution to this political crisis can be only one solution – peace. Any use of weapons is unacceptable. The only way out is to shift from a street confrontation to constructive negotiations. Negotiators should be guided by the interests of the whole country.” –– Olena Goncharova

 

Rinat Akhmetov

 

Hrytsenko, former defense minister, calls on citizens to arm themselves

2:38 p.m, Jan. 25 — Anatoliy Hrytsenko, the former Batkivshchyna Party member of parliament, calls on citizens to use legal weapons for patroling Independence Square and the central streets of Kyiv. The decision was supported unanimously during the national EuroMaidan’s forum in Kyiv. He urged veterans of the armed forces, Afghan peacekeepers and private security company workers to join protesters in patrolling city. — Olena Goncharova

Activists picket General Prosecutor’s Office in Kyiv 

1:05 p.m., Jan. 25 — Some 500 activists gathered near the Prosecutor General’s Office in Kyiv on Saturday, Interfax reports.  — Olena Goncharova

Activists seize governmental building in Vinnytsia, bringing to 10 number of occupied centers

12:42 p.m., Jan. 25 — Protesters in Vinnytsia have occupied the building of state regional administration, where special session of regional council is held this morning. Their demands include resignation of administration’s head and Party of Regions deputies. As of Jan. 25, there are already 10 cities, including Lutsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Ternopil, Lviv, Rivne, Khmelntysky, Sumy, Vinnytsia and Kyiv, where protesters have seized government offices. Several hundred Berkut police officers who were patrolling the administration’s building have joined the protesters. People applaud their decision. –– Anastasia Forina

 

 

The status of which oblast governments remain in the hands of President Viktor Yanukovych and which ones are now controlled by the EuroMaidan movement.

 

This map offers a slightly different picture.

 

Zakharchenko says EuroMaidan radicals stockpiling arms, uncontrollable by opposition leaders

12:03 p.m., Jan. 25 — Ukrainian Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko said that Ukrainian political opposition leaders “don’t want to disassociate themselves from radical forces, but are no longer capable of controlling them, exposing Ukrainians to danger,” according to a statement posted on the  Interior Ministry website.

Zakharchenko said the events of recent days in Kyiv have shown that “our attempts to peacefully resolve the conflict without resorting to military confrontation are of no effect.”

Zakharchenko also noted that opposition member of parliament Oleg Lyashko urged the kidnapping and assaults on police. As a result, one police officer was shot in the head at night on Jan 25 and three police officers kidnapped on Independence Square. One remains in the hospital, while two others are being held in the building of the Kyiv City State Administration.

(The EuroMaidan leaders deny the accusations.)

Police have information that firearms being piled up at the Trade Unions Building and Kyiv City State Administration building. Negotiations between police officers and opposition leaders didn’t help, according to the Interior Ministry, who called on the international comment to act, Zakharchenko said. –– Olena Goncharova

Yatseniuk calls for foreign mediation of crisis

11:58 a.m., Jan. 25 — From EuroMaidanPR and Ukrainska Pravda: Leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna Party Arseniy Yatseniuk on Jan. 24 stated that Ukrainian society is in crisis that will be difficult to solve without mediation by Western partners. He said this to journalists on Friday evening in Kyiv after his meeting with Stefan Fuele, the European commissioner for enlargement. He went on to say that he believes that in order to investigate the crimes that have been and continue to be committed in Ukraine, a a special commission ought to be formed under the auspices of the European Parliament. The Ukrainian opposition would be prepared to delegate individuals to such a commission. On Jan. 23, the opposition and demonstrators decided to end talks with the government and expand EuroMaidan’s territory to Olginska Street. — Brian Bonner

Fuele calls for end to cycle of violence

11:13 a.m., Jan. 25  — “I visited Ukraine on behalf of President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and High Representative/ Vice-President Catherine Ashton on Friday and Saturday. To underline that the EU remains engaged in facilitating a peaceful, negotiated solution out of the crisis, I held talks with President Viktor Yanukovych, leaders of the opposition party Batkivshchyna Arseniy Yatsenyuk, of the party Udar Vitali Klitchko and party Svoboda Oleh Tyahnybok as well as with representatives of the civil society. I have also visited the Maidan square and talked to people there.

“In my talks I conveyed deep concerns of the EU about the latest developments and underlined the need to end the cycle of violence, to fight against impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations and to continue an inclusive national dialogue to find a way out of the crisis that threatens to further destabilise the country.

“My talks in Kyiv showed the need for a series of concrete steps to first start to rebuild trust of people by stopping the spiral of violence and intimidation, to be complemented in a second stage by an inclusive political process leading the stability in Ukraine. I have discussed a series of steps to this end, that could lead to confidence building and to a political process aimed at ending this crisis. I stressed to my Ukrainian partners that the EU would remain engaged in this process assisting them in de-escalating the situation and finding a way out of the crisis, as demonstrated by the scheduled visit of High Representative/Vice-President Cathy Ashton to Kyiv next week.” — Katya Gorchinskaya

Danyliuk says Spilna Sprava has seized Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry

11:05 a.m., Jan. 25 — Oleksandr Danyliuk, a Spilna Sprava leader, says activists have just seized the building of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry located on 30 Khreshchatyk Streeet. –– Olena Goncharova 

Yanukovych appoints Makienko as head of the Kyiv City State Administration

11:03 a.m., Jan. 25 — President Viktor Yanukovych has appointed Volodymyr Makienko as a head of the Kyiv City State Administration, replacing the fired Oleksandr Popov, who was dismissed after Kyiv police violently dispersed demonstrators on Nov. 30. The news of the appointment of the Party of Regions loyalist appeared on the presidential website. The ruling Party of Regions has refused to set elections for mayor, fearing electoral loss, after they removed the last elected mayor of the city, Leonid Chernovetsky. — Olena Goncharova. 

Euan MacDonald’s dispatches from overnight

10:30 a.m., Jan. 25 — The intrepid journalist, Euan MacDonald, a former Kyiv Post editor, has been enlightening his friends and fans with Facebook posts from this scene. Here are two of his from overnight Jan. 24-25 about the situation:

“Ukrainian pop star Ruslana speaks from the Maidan stage: She says she’s going to Hrushevskoho, and describes the protesters as “molodtsy” (great guys). She says she hopes the Ukrainian army realizes whose side they should be on. She says she hopes to be on the Maidan every hour to lead the crowd in singing the national anthem, but if she doesn’t appear, it’s because she’s on the barricades with the fighters.”

And this one from MacDonald:

“The ceasefire is over. A huge fire of burning tires stretches 70 meters across Hrushevskoho Street, in front of the opposition barricades, billowing out dense clouds of smoke, and thrusting flames up to five meters into the air. The Berkut special riot police are reported to have been firing at protesters again with rubber bullets, but it’s now doubtful they can see the protesters through the wall of fire and smoke that is now separating the two sides. The police seem to be trying to use searchlights to penetrate the protesters’ smoke screen, and they are tossing the occasional tear gas grenade, as well as trying to douse the fires with water. It’s all proving useless: the smoke is too thick, the prevailing wind blows tear gas back at them along with the smoke, and the jets of water they spray merely evaporate into clouds of steam in the raging rubber tire-fed fires. As usual, the protesters are keeping up a constant din of clanging wood against metal, and the occasional Molotov cocktail and firework is shot across the wall of fire in the direction of the police, but to what effect we cannot see. Central Kiev again resembles a war zone, or a scene from a medieval city siege.” — Brian Bonner

Interior Ministry warns protesters to release two kidnapped police officers

10:21 a.m., Jan. 25 — Despite the denials of EuroMaidan activists, the Interior Ministry continues to insist that militant activists took two police officers hostage on Jan. 24 and are still holding them. They urged the kidnappers to free the officers “otherwise the police will use force.” — Olena Goncharova. 

Temporary ceasefire takes hold this morning

9:38 a.m., Jan. 25 — A ceasefire was announced on the barricades on Hrushevsko Street in downtown Kyiv at 9:20 a.m., according to LigaBusinessInform and Espreso TV. One of the protesters took the national flag and went for a peace talks with riot-police officers. The commandants ordered activists to stop attacking the police. There are no signs of explosions on the street right now. Hundreds of activists warm up near the fire in front of police cordon. — Olena Goncharova

Sunrise shows smoldering, but relatively calm scene on Hrushevskoho Street

8:19 a.m., Jan. 25 — The view from Espreso TV’s live camera this morning after the sun came up was one of relative calm on Hrushevskoho Street, with protesters milling about behind high barricades and fires smoldering. The crowd was not very large in the angles shown by the camera operator. Of course, demonstrators continued to make a racket by banging on drums, metal fences, poles and other objects in a drumbeat of noise designed to rattle police and with a menacing show of solidarity. — Brian Bonner

Document: Police request more ammunition

8:13 a.m., Jan. 25 — Citing a leaked document, EuroMaidan PR — the official public relations service of the pro-democracy EuroMaidan movement — said the Interior Ministry is seeking more ammunition and supplies in its bid to quell demonstrations that have entered their 66th day on Jan. 25. They say the request came from Lt. Gen. Stanislav Shuliak wrote a letter, with a list of needs including:

1. 9 mm gun ammunition – 4,000,000;

2. 14.5 mm blanks – 150,000;

3. 40 mm charges VOG – 25 – 100,000;

4. Tents – 350 ;

5. Field kitchens – 150;

6. Thermoses – 1,050. — Brian Bonner

US Senator Robert Menendez issues new statement on deteriorating situation in Ukraine

8:08 a.m., Jan. 25 — Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the latest developments in Ukraine. Earlier this month, Menendez held a hearing on the crisis in Ukraine, and convened a roundtable discussion in New Jersey with Ukrainian leaders. The statement: “The deteriorating situation in Ukraine is growing more worrisome by the day. By abandoning fundamental principles of democratic rule and rejecting through violent means the rights of assembly, speech and protest, President Yanukovych has undermined his authority and threatened the political and economic stability of the Ukrainian state.  Ukrainian citizens from across the political spectrum are peacefully standing up and demanding that their voices be heard. President Yanukovych must bring an end to this violence, convene parliament and repeal repressive legislation restricting fundamental political rights, and constructively engage the political opposition. The world is watching and a peaceful resolution remains the only allowable outcome.” — Brian Bonner

 

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (Democrat – New Jersey)

 

Ukraine’s deteriorating situation gets more notice in Ukraine

7:30 a.m., Jan. 25 — These are remarks from a Jan. 23 press briefing by U.S. President Barack Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney. Follow the link here.— Brian Bonner

 

White House spokesman Jay Carney

 

Rich, powerful at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, take note of Ukraine’s tragedy 

7:19 a.m., Jan. 25 — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 24 took note of the ongoing violence in Ukraine’s crisis. Here’s the key excerpt:

“Far from disengaging, America is proud to be more engaged than ever, and, I believe, is playing as critical a role, perhaps as critical as ever, in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and stability in various parts of the world. Right here in Europe, we are working with our partners to press the government of Ukraine to forgo violence, to address the concerns of peaceful protesters, to foster dialogue, promote the freedom of assembly and expression.  And I literally just received messages before walking in here of the efforts of our diplomats on the ground working with President Viktor Yanukovych to try to achieve calm and help move in this direction in the next days.  We will stand with the people of Ukraine.” — Brian Bonner

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calls on Ukraine’s government to “forgo violence, to address the concerns of peaceful protesters, to foster dialogue, promote the freedom of assembly and expression.”

More defections reported from pro-presidential ruling Party of Regions

7 a.m., Jan. 25 – EuroMaidanPR, the official public relations service of the anti-government EuroMaidan movement, is reporting more defections from the pro-presidential Party of Regions: “Party of Regions MPs Yaroslav Suhiy, Mykola Rudkovskiy have resigned from their faction in the parliament. This follows previous resignations of Inna Bogoslovska, Volodymyr Melnychenko and David Gvania. They are willing to work with the opposition for the change in government of Ukraine.

On the regional level, most of Western Ukrainian Party of Regions affiliates have been dismembering their local organisations. This includes: Zhytomyr regional council deputy – Oleh Samchuk; Skolivska regional council – Party of Regions faction disintegrated; Zbarazh regional council – deputy head Vasyl Lypka resigns; Today Party of Regions has had a full scale political retreat across Ukraine. Party of Regions MPs Yaroslav Suhiy, Mykola Rudkovskiy have resigned from their faction in the parliament. This follows previous resignations of Inna Bogoslovska, Volodymyr Melnychenko and David Gvania.

On the regional level, most of western Ukrainian Party of Regions affiliates have been dismembering their local organisations. This includes:Zhytomyr regional council deputy – Oleh Samchuk: Skolivska regional council – Party of Regions faction disintegrated; Zbarazh regional council – deputy head Vasyl Lypka resigns; Busk regional administration head – Volodymyr Say; Busk regional councli – Vasyl Goroshko та Maryana Dizhak and Evgen Kykurch. — Brian Bonner

Academic, author Taras Kuzio speaks on situation in Ukraine

6:32 a.m., Jan. 25 — Below are three video previews of remarks from academic and author Taras Kuzio, a Canadian-Ukrainian, taped on Jan. 24.

“I don’t believe Yanukovych will survive until March 2015”
http://youtu.be/2drJri10YJQ

“Yanukovych and those in power in Ukraine cannot comprehend what is happening”
http://youtu.be/bymFp_JvZ3s

“Ukrainians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity:
http://youtu.be/CLzjuRul1ak

Taras Kuzio is a research associate at the Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta. He said he recently became the first Canadian to be placed on the Ukrainian government’s blacklist.

 

Taras Kuzio

 

 

More than 10,000 people in Lviv attend funeral on Jan. 24 of slain activist

5:51 a.m., Jan. 25 — Some 10,000 Ukrainians took part in the funeral ceremony of slain protester Yuri Verbytsky on Jan. 24. Verbytsky was abducted on Jan. 21 and his beaten body was found on Jan. 23 in a forest near Boryspil south of Kyiv on Jan. 23. Verbytsky and fellow activist Ihor Lutsenko were abducted by a group of 10 men in a Kyiv hospital where Verbytsky was seeking treatment for injuries. Lutsenko was also beaten and taken outside of Kyiv, but survived the attack. Authorities are investigating after initially refuting that the men were abducted. — Brian Bonner

 

Some 10,000 Ukrainians take part in the funeral ceremony of dead protester Yuri Verbytsky in the western city of Lviv on January 24, 2014. Verbytsky was reportedly abducted on Tuesday and was found dead in a forest near Kiev Thursday.

 

 

The body of activist Yuriy Verbytsky (L) was found in Boryspil on Jan. 23 and identified by his family. Ihor Lutsenko (R) says that the men who abducted both f them from a Kyiv hospital on Jan. 21 beat him but let him go free.

 

 

Truce over as police, protesters renew clashes, but remain in standoff positions

5:39 a.m., Jan. 25 — The Agence France Press reports that anti-government protesters clashed with the police in Kyiv overnight Jan. 24-25, with demonstrators throwing molotov cocktails at police while police three stun grenades at protesters. “But both sides stuck to their positions and the flare-up did not escalate into the running battles seen earlier in the week.”

Anti-government protesters clash with the police in the center of Ukrainian capital Kiev during the night on January 25, 2014. Violence broke out in Kiev again late Friday, with molotov cocktails flying in one direction and stun grenades in the other, but both sides stuck to their positions and the flare-up did not escalate into the running battles seen earlier in the week. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY

 

 

Interior Ministry says three police officers attacked, abducted after earlier murder of one Kyiv police officer; National Resistance Headquarters deny any involvement in attacks on officers

5:09 a.m., Jan. 25 — From a translation of the Interior Ministry statement, reporting an assault on three police officers after earlier reporting another police officer had been shot to death on Jan. 24. The statement can be found here. “Three police officers were wound and kidnapped on the evening of Jan. 24 on Independence Square by EuroMaidan self-defense guards. One of them was struck by a knife; one is being hospitalized; the fate of two police officers are unknown.

The EuroMaidan’s National Resistance headquarters issued a statement through the opposition Batkivshchyna Party denying any involvement. Here is part of the denial statement:

“The Headquarters of the National Resistance categorically denies this fact (of assaults on three police officers) and considers it a deliberate provocation for the purpose of inciting police against protesters. We do not want to believe that the murder of a policeman could be used for the same purpose.” The statement says the attacks on police will be used to justify removing Independence Square of protesters. “The use of force is unacceptable because it will have only one result –the escalation of conflict and violence in the country.” — Brian Bonner.

 

Police officer reported killed; National Resistance Headquarters denies involvement

5 a.m., Jan. 25 — From Ukrainska Pravda: The body of a 27-year-old police officer with a gunshot wound to the head has been found in Kyiv’s Holosivisky District the evening of Jan. 24. The press service of the Interior Ministry said guards working at a construction site found the body. The men reportedly heard shots and ran in the direction from where they came. Witnesses said two strangers fled the scene. The ministry says the officer was going home and unarmed, but lived in a hostel where riot police officers were staying. The ministry said that it had received notice of armed provocations earlier. A link to the Interior Ministry’s statement is here.

The following denial was issued through the opposition Batkivshchyna Party denying involvement in the killing as well as reported assault and kidnapping of three other officers:

“The Headquarters of the National Resistance expressed condolences to the family of the deceased sergeant from the Holosivivsky District police department. It is a tragedy that must be investigated promptly and professionally. Murder can not be justified.” The EuroMaidan statement, however, blames President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration for not preventing this and deaths of EuroMaidan activists on Jan. 22 because of “the inability of the authorities to hear their own people, common sense and do what is necessary to resolve the acute crisis.” It also asks police to “refrain from provoking situations with false and dangerous news,” including the report on three officers being attacked and injured in Independence Square. It also casts doubt on the reported murder of the police officer.— Brian Bonner

 

 

 

JAN. 24 UPDATES

 

American comedian Stephen Colbert does skit on Ukraine’s EuroMaidan revolution

8:40 p.m., Jan. 24 — Comedian Stephen Colbert gets into the act, poking fun at “the Ukraine” and “the Russia” as having the two largest strategic reserves of alcoholism. He also finds humor in the EuroMaidan protesters’ catapults and colanders. “Well, my Ukrainian friends, I stand with you. And to prove it, I will wear this colander until you achieve or defeat whatever it is you’re fighting for, or against. Until then, I join your battle cry, ‘Al Dente!,” the Comedy Central star said.

Freedom is on the march in the Ukraine as rebels arm themselves with catapults and kitchen gear.  (03:23)

Nighttime atmosphere tense as more join protest, police movement seen

8:16 p.m., Jan. 24 — Thousands are crowded near two lines of barricades on Hrushevskoho Street. Protesters wore helmets, masks and shields made from traffic signs. Two students advised the Kyiv Post to stay away from the barricads as police are bringing in more reinforcements. The fear is that officers will resume shooting. One of the students said his parents doen’t know he is there. The other one said his classmate was recently beaten by unknown men for participating in protests. Middle-aged women came up to the students, insisting that they eat the sandwiches that they brought. Vitaliy, 38, a Kyiv resident, compared Berkut riot police with fascists who tortured people by stripping them in the cold. “That’s not good what’s going on now, but they brought people to this point,” he said about the clashes. As he spoke, the street remained covered wtih stones and the ash from burned tires. — Oksana Grytsenko

Four resignations in government and civil service

7:55 p.m., Jan. 24 — Two civil servants and one diplomat and government official resigned on Jan. 23-24.

Denys Ivanesko, the head of President Viktor Yanukovych’s public information department resigned on Jan. 23. Also, the head of the Court Administration of Ukraine, Ruslan Kyryliuk resigned. The longtime Honorary Consul of Ukraine to Luxembourg Claude Radoux tendered his resignation.

“When snipers hunt down protesters, when people are being killed for their opinion, it is a dictatorship”, stated Radoux before announcing his resignation on the morning of Jan. 23.

And the Obolon District Court Judge – Iryna Mamontova – who on Jan. 22 remanded under house arrest four university students for taking part in anti-government protests, also resigned. –Mark Rachkevych

Yanukovych: Foreigners taking part in EuroMaidan

7:35 p.m., Jan. 24 — President Viktor Yanukovych said that foreigners wanted by law enforcement bodies are taking part in anti-government protests in downtown Kyiv.

“Radical events have begun to which not only Ukrainians, but also many people from other countries have been a part, and who have participated in regional conflicts and who are on international wanted lists,” Yanukovych told a group of church and religious organization leaders on Jan. 24. “They all are hiding out in the occupied buildings (in Kyiv – city hall, trade union building, agricultural ministry and Zhovtnevy Palats).”

The president also alleged that weapons are being stored in the seized public and government buildings.

“How should we, tell me please, react to this? This is a flagrant violation of the laws of Ukraine. This may pose a risk not only to residents of Kyiv but to the whole of Ukraine,” added Yanukovych.

Without providing names, the president said that many “radicals and crime bosses were prevented from entering the country already at airports. – Mark Rachkevych

A round-up of different events today

7:31 p.m., Jan. 24 — Party of Regions deputy Yaroslav Sukhiy resigned the pro-presidential faction in parliament. A video of him signing a letter of resignation was posted on Youtube.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phsiuCTYJ20

The Lviv regional branch of the Party of Regions issued a statement calling for Azarov’s resignation http://zaxid.net/resources/newsfiles/PR_skrin.jpg

In Zhytomyr, a city council deputy of Party of Regions quits http://www.zhitomir.info/news_130567.html
BERKUTAt least 4 Berkut officers in Lviv submitted letters of resignation.http://zaxid.net/home/showSingleNews.do?biytsi_lvivskogo_berkutu_napisali_raporti_na_zvilnennya&objectId=1301304

Bucha of Kyiv Oblat and Berdychiv in Zhytomir Oblast have regional councils taken over by protesters.

A Lviv top cop says they will not attempt to free the regional administration from EuroMaidan demonstrators http://zaxid.net/home/showSingleNews.do?golovniy_militsioner_lvivshhini_chekaye_rishennya_z_kiyeva_video&objectId=1301346 –-Katya Gorchinskaya

Yanukovych: Government will take all legal measures to stop conflict

6:55 p.m., Jan. 24 — A statement released by the press service of President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych emphasized that the government would use all legal leverages to solve the political crisis.

“I will do everything to stop this conflict, to stop violence and establish stability,” Viktor Yanukovych said in the course of the meeting with leaders of churches and religious organizations.

“Certainly, to stop radicals. If we manage to stop them amicably, we will stop them amicably. Otherwise we will use all legal methods provided for by the laws of Ukraine. It is for the sake of people. There is no other way,” the Head of State noted.

He also stressed that law enforcement officials were fulfilling their duty.

“When young people who are just standing burn, there should be an answer to this question. When they are beaten with stones for performing their duty, there should be an answer to this question. When public premises are seized and rifled guns are brought there, there should also be an answer to this question,” Viktor Yanukovych said.

According to the President, first of all violence and bloodshed must be stopped.

“Opposition leaders have no more influence on these processes. Radicals are not going to stop. They keep on crushing, burning and destroying. What to expect? For how long can we wait? We must stop this process. That is why the answer to this question will be given in the nearest time,” the Head of State noted.

In a separate statement, Yanukovych assured that in the course of the special session of the Verkhovna Rada on January 28 the decision on amendments to the composition of the Cabinet of Ministers would be made.

“We will make a decision jointly with deputies at this session. As President, I will sign the decree and we will reshape the Government,” Viktor Yanukovych said at the meeting with leaders of churches and religious organizations.

The Head of State noted that the government would do everything to “reach mutual understanding”.

At the same time, according to Viktor Yanukovych, it is necessary to find the best alternative of professional composition of the Government that would work for the benefit of the Ukrainian state.

“Officials must be responsible for unprofessional actions. One must have courage. If you make mistakes you bear responsibility. If there are such consequences from your activity you must know that it is inadmissible. Those who are guilty must be responsible,” the Head of State noted.

 

 

Interior Ministry troops have received awards from President Viktor Yanukovych for exemplary service in confronting demonstrators on Jan. 22, when at least two protesters were shot dead.

 

Police who beat protesters on Jan. 22 awarded medals for “exemplary execution of duties”

6:45 p.m., Jan. 24 — For their “exemplary execution of duties” on Jan. 22, the day in which police forces brutally beat and drove back protesters on Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv, Eastern Territorial Command of the Internal Ministry Troops were awarded service medals, according to a post on the official site of the interior troops. — Christopher J. Miller

Interior Troop Major Vasily Moldavchuk presented his troops with awards on Jan. 23 for a job well done on Jan. 22 in executing their duties.

Man shown on video being mistreated by police gives press conference

6:05 p.m., Jan. 24 — A press briefing was under way in the National Resistance Headquarters of the occupied Trade Unions Building by activist Michael Hawryluk, whose mistreatment at the hands of riot police was captured on video, creating international outrage when the abuse went viral with a video that has been seen nearly 2 million times. Police captured him, paraded him around naked with the exception of boots. One officer struck him on the head and then kicked him as he climbed into a police detention bus. Kyiv Post staff writer Daryna Shevchenko is on the scene with details to come.

The video of the torture and humiliation can be seen here: http://youtu.be/z0zD3pOG-Tk — Brian Bonner

 

Michael Hawryluk, abused by police officers on a video that went viral and prompted international outrage, gives a press conference near Independence Square at 5:30 p.m. today.

Frontline radicals want ‘guns, helmets and good shoes’

5:31 p.m., Jan. 24 — The men who are at the frontlines of the standoff with police on Hrushevskoho Street are serious, angry and talkative. But they were not expecting any imminent police attack. “I know until midnight that everything is going to be calm,” one of them said. So they warmed themselves up by the fire and talked about their needs. “Give us guns, helmets and good shoes,” one said.

There is clearly a bit of a rift in the EuroMaidan movement between the main camp of demonstrators on Independence Square and the more radical ones on Hrushevskoho. One of the men said that Independence Square participants, who control October Palace, refused him a place to sleep because he’s part of the more militant group staring down police at Hrushevskoho. This guy is also not a fan of the singer Ruslana, whom he considers to be too moderate. But he’s angriest at President Viktor Yanukovych and police. — Olga Rudenko. 

Looks like people have little fear of police today

5:19 p.m., Jan. 24 — Up to 2,000 people were attending to the barricades on Hrushevskogo Street just before dusk today. There are now layers of barricades and the protesters — the radical ones — only reluctantly let women to the frontlines near the Dynamo Stadium gates and police on the other side of barricades. The atmosphere is calm at the hot spot. People warm up near the fire, talk to each other and eat.The others climb up the barricades to face riot police rows. They chant “Glory to Ukraine!” An old man came up to a crowd of protesters and expressed his contempt for EuroMaidan. People just turned their backs on him and asked him to leave. At other places, the atmosphere is tense but mostly cheerful. Some ask officers to put down their shields and talk. Others sing anthem and carols. — Daryna Shevchenko

Fryday Kyiv networking group drops social gatherings

5:14 p.m., Jan. 24 — Fryday Kyiv, the networking group started by Swedish citizen Anders Ostlund, has temporarily suspended its Friday night after-work gatherings, citing the continuing EuroMaidan crisis.

The group sent out this letter: “Dear friends of Fryday. The Fryday Team is very concerned about the current situation in Ukraine and Kyiv in particular. We are mourning the loss of our fellow citizens, and we would like to express our sincere condolences to their families and friends, as well as to all those who have suffered during these past few days. This is a tragedy for our country. As an event company we know that parties and entertainment events are inappropriate at this time. We cannot be involved in public entertainment while people on our streets are getting killed and crippled. Hereby, we would like to announce that the upcoming Fryday Kyiv events are cancelled and postponed until further notice. We hope for a resolution in our country, we hope for peace and security for Ukrainian citizens. Yours sincerely, Fryday Team” — Brian Bonner

Arnold Schwarzenegger sends his support

1:16 p.m., Jan. 24 — Actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger became the latest celebrity to back the EuroMaidan movement’s quest for democracy and human rights. In an 11-second message that looks like it could have been shot in the backyard of one of his mansions, with green foliage in the background, Schwarzenegger refers to the nation as “the Ukraine.” Putting “the” before Ukraine is a surefire way to irritate Ukrainians, because it harkens back to its status as a former Soviet republic and continues to perpetuate the stigma that Ukraine is part of Russia. But Ukrainians, at least those who support EuroMaidan, are bound to like the rest of the message. “I want to send a message to the people of the Ukraine to let them know I wish them all the best of luck in their peaceful struggle for democracy and freedom. Peace!” — Brian Bonner

 

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