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A violent protest sparked outside the Russian embassy in Ukraine, which saw windows smashed, the Russian flag torn down and cars overturned.
Russia accused Ukrainian police of doing nothing to stop the attack, and called it a “grave violation of Ukraine’s international obligations”.
Meanwhile NATO released images which it says back up Ukrainian claims that Russian tanks crossed into Ukraine.
Moscow has denied sending the tanks to help pro-Russian rebels in the east.
Ukrainian radicals attacked cars and removed flag from Russian embassy in Kiev
A range of images show the T-64 tanks first at a Russian military staging area near Rostov-on-Don, and then apparently inside Ukraine earlier this week.
Unlike Ukrainian armored vehicles, the tanks have no markings or camouflage.
NATO says the pictures “raise significant questions” about Russia’s role in eastern Ukraine.
Saturday’s disturbance in Kiev occurred when several hundred protesters hurled eggs and paint at the Russian embassy.
One petrol bomb was also hurled, windows smashed and flags torn down.
The protesters – some wearing balaclavas – overthrew cars with diplomatic plates. One protester held a sign saying: “Russia is a killer.”
Russia’s protest against the incident was echoed by the US state department: “The United States condemns the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev, and calls on Ukrainian authorities to meet their Vienna convention obligations to provide adequate security.”
Earlier on Saturday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed to retaliate against pro-Russia separatists in the east after a military plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire, killing all 49 people on board.
The Ilyushin-76 transport was attacked by separatist forces as it was about to land in the city of Luhansk.
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Kiev’s operations against pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine have been suspended over Easter, Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia has announced.
However, Andriy Deshchytsia said, Ukraine’s security services would resume military action if the separatists continued to occupy government offices.
They are refusing to leave buildings in several cities, defying an agreement reached on Thursday to ease the crisis.
The US has threatened more sanctions if Russia fails to abide by the agreement.
The Kremlin responded by accusing the White House of treating Moscow like a “guilty schoolboy”.
Kiev’s operations against pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine have been suspended over Easter (photo AFP)
In a separate development, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would award medals to Russians who took part in the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine last month.
The Ukrainian foreign minister added that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was willing to start a negotiation process with the separatists.
In response to separatist calls for pro-European protesters in Kiev to also vacate sites they were occupying, he said that those camped in the capital’s Maidan Square had “asked permission from the city council” and their camp was therefore not an “illegal occupation”.
Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US had agreed during talks in Geneva that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying government premises must be disarmed and leave.
The sides also decided there would be an amnesty for all anti-government protesters.
But the separatists’ spokesman in the city of Donetsk said that the Kiev government was “illegal”, and vowed they would not go until it stepped down.
After cautiously welcoming the deal struck on Thursday, the White House stepped up pressure on Russia to use its influence over separatists occupying the buildings in nine cities and towns in eastern Ukraine.
On Friday, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned that if Moscow failed to uphold the deal a new round of sanctions would focus on what she called “very significant sectors of the Russian economy”.
Susan Rice added that the US had identified close associates of the Russian leadership as potential targets for new sanctions.
Russia responded by saying it was disappointed with the US assessment of the Geneva deal.
“You can’t treat Russia like a guilty schoolboy who has to… show he has done his homework,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.
“That kind of language is unacceptable.”
Ukraine’s interim cabinet has been presented at Kiev’s main protest camp, the Maidan.
The Maidan council named Arseniy Yatsenyuk to become prime minister.
Ukraine’s new government – to be voted on by parliament on Thursday – includes leading activists.
Daunting challenges lie ahead, including fixing Ukraine’s struggling economy which faces default.
Meanwhile, ousted President Viktor Yanukovych has been put on the international wanted list.
Viktor Yanukovych is accused of being behind last week’s deaths of more than 100 protesters at the hands of riot police in and around the Maidan.
The Maidan council named Arseniy Yatsenyuk to become prime minister
The Maidan council – made up of protester groups and activists – announced its nominations at a big gathering of protesters at the camp, which is spread over Kiev’s Independence Square.
The council proposed Fatherland Party leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk to lead the cabinet until after early presidential elections on May 25.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk – a former speaker of parliament and foreign minister – has been one of the main opposition leaders during the protests which first erupted in late November.
It was agreed that acting Defense Minister Arsen Avakov would keep his post. Other nominations include:
- The key foreign affairs ministry portfolio goes to Andriy Deshchytsia, who played a key role in rallying diplomats in support of the protests
- Overall Maidan commander Andriy Parubiy – who commands huge respect among the protesters – was named candidate for secretary of the National Security and Defence Council
- Tetyana Chornovol and Dmytro Bulatov – prominent activists who were badly beaten by unknown attackers earlier this year – are set to head the anti-corruption bureau and the ministry of youth and sports respectively. [youtube hW031-_eJSM 650]
Oleksandr Turchynov – Ukraine’s interim president – has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Many in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions oppose his overthrow and the installation of a more European-leaning interim administration.
Russia is also angry at the changes, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow will not intervene.
The formation of a unity government has been delayed until Thursday.
Addressing parliament, Oleksandr 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.
Ukraine’s interim President Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych
Crimea and some pro-Russian areas in the east have seen protests against the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych, sparking fears of secession.
The delay in announcing a unity government was to allow further consultations, Oleksandr Turchynov said, adding that “a coalition of national faith must be elected”.
Russia has been vehemently opposed to the changes in Ukraine, with PM Dmitry Medvedev saying on Monday that those behind the new administration had conducted an “armed mutiny”.
At a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Sergei Lavrov warned other states against seeking “unilateral advantages” in Ukraine, but said Russia’s “policy of non-intervention” would continue.
“It is dangerous and counter-productive to try to force on Ukraine a choice according to the principle of either being with us or against us,” he said.
Sergei Lavrov added that “it is in our interest for Ukraine to be part of the broad European family” but against Russia’s interest to “allow the radicals and nationalists who are clearly trying to take centre stage to prevail.”
It is still unclear where Viktor Yanukovych is, but an arrest warrant has been issued. He was last reportedly seen on Sunday in Balaklava on the Crimean peninsula.
Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said a criminal case had been opened against the ousted president and other officials over “mass murder of peaceful citizens”.
Ukraine parliament’s speaker Oleksandr Turchynov has been named as interim president.
Oleksandr Turchynov takes charge following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday. He told lawmakers they had until Tuesday to form a new unity government.
Former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, who was freed from jail on Saturday, has ruled out becoming prime minister again.
Her release was one of the conditions of the EU-Ukraine trade pact that Viktor Yanukovych rejected last year.
The move triggered the protests that led to the current crisis.
The health ministry says 88 people, mostly protesters, are now known to have been killed in clashes since February 18.
Thousands of opposition supporters remain in Kiev’s Independence Square, heeding opposition calls not to disperse.
Ukraine parliament’s speaker Oleksandr Turchynov has been named as interim president
In response to reports that her name was being mentioned as a possible candidate, Yulia Tymoshenko issued a statement reading: “No-one has agreed or discussed this with me.
“Thank you for your respect but I would like you not to consider my nomination for the post of the head of government.”
Oleksandr Turchynov, a close associate of Yulia Tymoshenko, described forming a unity government as a “priority task”.
“We don’t have much time,” one of the opposition leaders, former world champion boxer Vitaly Klitschko, said as parliament began its debate.
“I want to make Ukraine a modern European country,” he said.
“If I can do that through the president’s position, I will do my best.”
In an address on Saturday, aired before lawmakers voted to remove him, Viktor Yanukovych refused to officially stand down. He is last thought to have been in Kharkiv after travelling there late on Friday night.
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Yulia Tymoshenko has urged opposition supporters in Kiev’s Independence Square to continue their protests.
Ukraine’s former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, who has a back injury, addressed crowds from a wheelchair after being freed from detention.
“Until you finish this job… nobody has the right to leave,” she said.
Her speech came at the end of a dramatic day that saw President Viktor Yanukovych removed by the parliament and fleeing Kiev, but refusing to stand down.
Yulia Tymoshenko broke down in tears as she told cheering supporters late on Saturday: “You are heroes.
Yulia Tymoshenko has urged opposition supporters in Kiev’s Independence Square to continue their protests
“Because nobody could… do what you have done.”
“We’ve eliminated this cancer, this tumor,” she said.
However, while Yulia Tymoshenko was hailed by many in the audience, she does not enjoy universal support among the opposition.
Before she went into prison in 2011, Yulia Tymoshenko’s popularity ratings were dropping and many Ukrainians blame her in part for the chaos of the post-Orange Revolution years, or see her as a member of Ukraine’s corrupt elite.
Dozens of people walked away in disgust when she appeared on the stage in Independence Square.
A vote by parliament on Friday paved the way for Yulia Tymoshenko’s release.
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Yulia Tymoshenko has arrived in Kiev’s Independence Square to cheers of thousands, hours after being freed from jail.
The former Ukrainian prime minister is addressing the crowds there from her wheelchair.
Just hours earlier, Yulia Tymoshenko was freed following a vote by parliament on Friday demanding her release.
Yulia Tymoshenko has arrived in Kiev’s Independence Square to cheers of thousands, hours after being freed from jail
Speaking after President Viktor Yanukovych had left the capital Kiev, Yulia Tymoshenko said a “dictatorship has fallen”.
Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2011 after a controversial verdict on her actions as prime minister.
She left the hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where she had been held under prison guard, and flew to Kiev.
Yulia Tymoshenko told journalists at Kiev airport that those behind violence “must be punished”, the Interfax agency reports.
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In an address televised before Ukraine’s parliament vote to impeach him, Viktor Yanukovych described events in Kiev as a “coup”.
Viktor Yanukovych insisted he was the “lawfully elected president” and compared the actions of the opposition to the rise to power of the Nazis in 1930s Germany.
In his address Viktor Yanukovych also called a raft of votes in Ukraine’s parliament on Friday “illegitimate”, claiming that lawmakers had been “beaten, pelted with stones and intimidated”.
However, he did admit that that some had left his Party of the Regions, calling them “traitors”.
President Viktor Yanukovych also said his ally, parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Rybak, was forced to resign because he had been physically beaten.
He added that both Volodymyr Rybak’s car and his own had been fired at.
In an address televised before Ukraine’s parliament vote to impeach him, Viktor Yanukovych described events in Kiev as a coup
Volodymyr Rybak resigned on Saturday morning citing ill health and was replaced by Oleksandr Turchynov, a Yulia Tymoshenko ally.
Another Yulia Tymoshenko ally, Arsen Avakov, was appointed interim interior minister, replacing Vitaly Zakharchenko, who was sacked on Friday after being blamed for the deaths of civilians in last week’s crackdown on protests.
Before Saturday’s vote to oust Viktor Yanukovych, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Ukrainian opposition of being led by “armed extremists and pogromists” whose actions were a threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty and constitutional order.
Also before the vote, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski – one of three EU ministers that mediated between the two sides this week – tweeted that there had been “no coup in Kiev”.
Radoslaw Sikorski, along with the German and French foreign ministers, presided over talks that led to a pact on Friday between Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders which now seems to have been overtaken by events.
The deal followed several days of violence in which dozens of people died in a police crackdown on months of protest. It called for the restoration of the 2004 constitution and the formation of a national unity government.
The agreement failed to end the protests overnight with huge crowds remaining in the Maidan calling for Viktor Yanukovych’s resignation.
Ukraine’s parliament has voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych and hold early presidential elections on May 25.
The vote came after the opposition seized several official buildings in the capital Kiev and parliament appointed high-level officials.
Viktor Yanukovych described events as a “coup” and vowed not to stand down.
Also on Saturday afternoon, prominent opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was released from detention, hours after parliament authorized the move.
Correspondents say Yulia Tymoshenko was driven away in a car after leaving a hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv where she was being held under prison guard.
Yulia Tymoshenko is now reported to be heading to Kiev’s Independence Square – also called the Maidan – which has been the focal point of anti-government protests.
Lawmakers had voted to pave the way for Yulia Tymoshenko’s release on Friday. She was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 after being convicted of abuse of power over her actions during her tenure as prime minister.
Ukraine’s parliament has voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych and hold early presidential elections on May 25
Yulia Tymoshenko’s supporters have always maintained this was simply Viktor Yanukovych taking out his most prominent opponent, and her release has always been a key demand of the protest movement.
The opposition is now in effective control of the capital Kiev, with Viktor Yanukovych arriving in Kharkiv, near the Russian border, late on Friday night.
The Interfax news agency reported parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov as saying Viktor Yanukovych had been stopped by border police in an attempt to flee to Russia and was now somewhere in the Donetsk region.
Earlier on Saturday, protesters walked unchallenged into the president’s office and residential compounds.
Ukraine’s army released a statement on Saturday afternoon saying it would not get “involved in the domestic political conflict”.
The vote to “remove Viktor Yanukovych from the post of president of Ukraine” was passed by 328 MPs.
Such ballots, passed by what is called constitutional majority, are binding and enter into force with immediate effect.
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Ukraine’s former PM Yulia Tymoshenko has been freed from jail.
It follows a vote by parliament to release her after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital Kiev.
Speaking after her release, the Ukrainian opposition leader said “the dictatorship has fallen”.
Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2011 after a controversial verdict on her actions as prime minister.
Ukraine’s former PM Yulia Tymoshenko has been freed from jail
The glamorous, fiery orator who helped lead the Orange Revolution – Ukraine’s revolt against a controversial election in 2004 – was convicted of criminally exceeding her powers when she agreed a gas deal with Russia which was seen to have disadvantaged her own country.
Yulia Tymoshenko has always insisted the charges were untrue, inspired by Viktor Yanukovych, the man she helped oust in 2004 who returned to defeat her in the 2010 presidential election.
The EU had demanded her release as one of the conditions of the EU-Ukraine trade pact that President Viktor Yanukovych rejected last year – triggering the protests that led to the current crisis.
Olha Lappo, spokeswoman for the Fatherland party Yulia Tymoshenko leads, said she was heading from prison in the eastern city of Kharkiv to the capital Kiev to join protesters there.
Yulia Tymoshenko’s release was made possible by a European-brokered peace deal between her President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition on Friday.
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In fast-moving events on Saturday, Ukraine’s parliament voted for opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to be released immediately.
Former PM Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for abuse of power. Her supporters had always maintained this was simply Viktor Yanukovych taking out his most prominent opponent.
Also in parliament, speaker Volodymyr Rybak resigned, citing ill health. He has been replaced by Oleksandr Turchynov, an ally of Yulia Tymoshenko.
Another Yulia Tymoshenko ally, Arsen Avakov, has been appointed interim interior minister. He replaces Vitaly Zakharchenko, who was sacked on Friday after being blamed for the deaths of civilians in last week’s crackdown on protests.
Former PM Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for abuse of power
Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the opposition Udar party, repeated his demand for President Viktor Yanukovych’s immediate resignation.
Meanwhile presidential aide Hanna Herman said Viktor Yanukovych had travelled to Kharkiv in the east, close to the Russian border, from where he was to give a televised address.
A gathering of deputies from the south-east and Crimea – traditionally Russian-leaning areas – is taking place there, but Hanna Herman said the president had “no intention” of attending, nor of leaving the country.
An opposition figure has announced to crowds in Independence Square that President Viktor Yanukovych has resigned. This has not been confirmed, but the crowds reacted with huge cheers. The presidential website appears to have gone down.
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According to new reports, the Kiev offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych are unguarded, with opposition protesters apparently in full control of the government district.
Ukraine’s capital is now quiet, a day after deal was signed to end a political crisis in which dozens have died.
As parliament met on Saturday, the speaker, Volodymyr Rybak stood down.
Volodymyr Rybak cited ill health as the reason for his resignation.
Despite the deal signed on Friday, thousands of people have remained on the streets of Kiev.
The Kiev offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych are unguarded, with opposition protesters apparently in full control of the government district
There is no sign of security forces inside the previously heavily guarded presidential complex, though some government employees arrived for work.
There are unconfirmed reports that President Viktor Yanukovych has left Kiev, with suggestions that he has travelled to Kharkiv in the east, close to the Russian border.
One group of far-right protesters had threatened to take action if he did not resign by Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, the opposition Udar party, led by Vitaly Klitschko, is to submit a resolution to parliament demanding Viktor Yanukovych’s immediate resignation.
Spokeswoman Oksana Zinoviyeva told Reuters the move would allow parliament to set a date for early elections.
On Thursday, police opened fire on protesters who have been occupying Independence Square in central Kiev. The health ministry said 77 people – both protesters and police – had been killed since Tuesday in the worst violence since protests began in November.
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Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition protesters have agreed to an early presidential poll before the end of the year.
The election is part of a deal to end the country’s political crisis.
The deal has not been published, but Viktor Yanukovych referred to a national unity government and constitutional changes reducing the president’s power.
The compromise came after hours of talks between mediated by three European foreign ministers.
The German and Polish ministers met protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square before announcing their leaders backed the deal.
The agreement was later signed by opposition leaders and Viktor Yanukovych at the presidential administration headquarters in Kiev.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski tweeted that the deal was a “good compromise for Ukraine” which would open the way “to reform and to Europe”.
Ukrainian broadcaster ICTV said it had seen a copy of the agreement, which included three main proposals:
- The 2004 constitution will be restored within 48 hours, and a national unity government will be formed within 10 days
- Constitutional reform balancing the powers of president, government and parliament will be started immediately and completed by September
- A presidential election will be held after the new constitution is adopted but no later than December 2014
Despite the agreement, isolated outbursts of violence were reported in central Kiev on Friday morning.
Ukrainian health ministry said 77 people had been killed since Tuesday, and another 577 were injured
The police said they had traded gunfire with protesters, and Ukrainian media said riot police were patrolling inside parliament during a session.
Lawmakers once again began the session with scuffles, as the speaker tried to adjourn a debate about constitutional reform.
Viktor Yanukovych announced the deal early on Friday, but initially gave no details.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there had been an agreement that nobody would publicize the deal until it had been confirmed.
However, the president later gave more details and said in a statement that he would initiate the process of constitutional reform and call an early election.
The deal came after the bloodiest day since the unrest began.
Police opened fire early on Thursday after protesters tried to push them away from the makeshift camps they have been occupying in central Kiev.
The health ministry said 77 people had been killed since Tuesday, and another 577 were injured.
But activists suggested the death toll was likely to be much higher.
On Friday the US State Department issued a travel warning advising its citizens to “defer non-essential travel” to Ukraine, saying that it had authorized “the departure of all family members of US government personnel from Ukraine”.
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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says he has reached a deal with the opposition to end the crisis, after all-night talks mediated by three EU foreign ministers.
Viktor Yanukovych’s statement said the agreement would be signed later.
However, the French foreign minister voiced caution, saying the deal was not definitive, and the opposition has not confirmed Viktor Yanukovych’s claim.
Protesters and police are still locked in a stand-off in Kiev, a day after dozens were killed in violent clashes.
Hours after Viktor Yanukovych announced the deal, more violence was reported in central Kiev.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says he has reached a deal with the opposition to end the crisis
The police said they had traded gunfire with protesters, and Ukrainian media said riot police were patrolling inside parliament during a session.
The protests first erupted in late November when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.
Thursday was the bloodiest day since the unrest began.
Police opened fire after protesters tried to push them away from the makeshift camps they have been occupying in central Kiev.
The health ministry said 77 people had been killed since Tuesday, and another 577 were injured. But activists suggested the death toll was likely to be much higher.
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EU foreign ministers have decided to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials “responsible for violence and excessive force”.
According to a statement released by the EU foreign ministers, targeted sanctions including asset freezes and visa bans would be introduced “as a matter of urgency”.
At least 21 anti-government protesters died in clashes in Kiev on Thursday.
Officials said that one policeman had also died and that 67 police had been captured by protesters.
“No circumstances can justify the repression we are currently witnessing,” the statement from EU foreign ministers said.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the “prime responsibility” to get talks between the two sides under way lay with President Viktor Yanukovych.
At least 21 anti-government protesters died in clashes in Kiev on Thursday
Speaking after an emergency meeting of EU foreign minsters in Brussels, Catherine Ashton said ministers had expressed their “dismay” at the latest violence and had agreed to “suspend export licences for equipment for internal repression”.
Implementation of the measures “will be taken forward in light of developments in Ukraine”, she added.
The EU has until now refrained from imposing sanctions on Ukraine, preferring to emphasise dialogue and compromise.
The US state department had already announced visa bans on 20 members of the Ukrainian government but has not provided any names.
At least 21 protesters were killed by security forces in Kiev on Thursday following the breakdown of a truce the previous day. Officials say 67 people have now died in violence since Tuesday.
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New reports claim that at least 21 protesters have been killed by security forces in Kiev following the breakdown of a truce agreed on Wednesday.
According to eyewitnesses some died as a result of single gunshot wounds, typical of sniper fire.
Officials said that one policeman had died and that 67 police had been captured by protesters.
Meanwhile, three EU foreign ministers have held five hours of talks with President Viktor Yanukovych.
Eyewitnesses have told international news agencies that they have counted between 21 and 27 protesters’ bodies after clashes in Kiev.
Video footage has emerged apparently showing snipers firing on demonstrators who had been trying to retake their protest camp in Independence Square.
Officials said more than 20 policemen had also been injured.
Witnesses reported live rounds, petrol bombs and water cannon being used at Independence Square during this morning’s clashes.
An opposition Twitter feed posted an image of 13 bodies in a makeshift mortuary in the lobby of the Hotel Ukraine.
At least 21 protesters have been killed by security forces in Kiev following the breakdown of a truce agreed on Wednesday
The hotel is serving as the base for all foreign media in Kiev.
Earlier, several dozen protesters were using the lobby as a triage centre for the wounded.
Protesters – some of them armed – asked hotel guests for blankets to use as bandages.
A statement on the presidential website blames the opposition for starting the violence, saying the “calls for a truce and dialogue were nothing but a way of playing for time to mobilise and arm militants from Maidan [Independence Square]”.
Opposition leaders called the violence “an act of provocation” by the authorities.
The foreign ministers of France, Poland and Germany conducted five hours of discussions with Viktor Yanukovych, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius tweeted.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski tweeted that he would now stay in Kiev to meet opposition leaders to test a “proposed agreement”, although it was not clear what the details of the agreement were.
Other EU foreign ministers, along with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, have convened at an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss possible sanctions.
They could include a possible ban on sales of equipment that might be used for internal repression.
Separately, the head of the Kiev city administration resigned from Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions.
Thursday had been declared a day of mourning for those killed in clashes on Tuesday.
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Ukrainian protesters are leaving city hall in Kiev, the symbolic centre of prolonged anti-government demonstrations, eyewitnesses say.
“City hall is almost completely evacuated,” opposition spokesman Ruslan Andriyko told AFP.
The government had promised to drop all charges against demonstrators if they vacate government buildings and lift roadblocks by Monday.
City hall has been occupied by protesters for more than two months.
The protests started in November when President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned plans to sign a far-ranging association agreement with the EU.
Instead, Viktor Yanukovych advocated closer trade relations with Russia, which dominated Ukraine for centuries until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
People began walking out of the building on Sunday morning.
Ukrainian protesters are leaving city hall in Kiev, the symbolic centre of prolonged anti-government demonstrations
The Swiss ambassador in Kiev entered the building soon afterwards in order to help transfer the building to the control of the authorities.
Switzerland currently holds the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
On Friday authorities released the last of 243 prisoners who were arrested during the unrest.
Viktor Yanukovich passed an amnesty law earlier this month and agreed to negotiate with the opposition after at least four people were killed in protests.
This weekend, some opposition members continued to call for his departure, and another demonstration is due to place in Kiev’s central Independence Square.
“The only subject of negotiation with Yanukovych is the conditions of his departure,” jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said on Saturday.
Yulia Tymoshenko went to accuse President Viktor Yanukovich of being under the control of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, his major international backer.
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A newly-married couple has climbed to the top of a protest barricade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to celebrate their wedding.
Anti-government protesters have been occupying areas of Kiev for several weeks after the government’s rejection of a planned treaty with the EU.
The newly-married couple has climbed to the top of a protest barricade in Kiev to celebrate their wedding
The crisis escalated this week when two activists were shot dead during clashes near the main protest camp on Kiev’s Independence Square, known as Maidan.
The newly-married couple said they were taking to the barricades to show support for the opposition struggle.
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Thousands of Ukrainians have rallied in Kiev in the first anti-government protest of 2014.
Ex-heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko encouraged the crowd to continue occupying Kiev’s Independence Square.
The protesters oppose President Viktor Yanukovych’s policy of strengthening ties with Russia rather than the EU.
They began a series of rallies in November calling for his resignation.
The protests, and occupation of the square by activists, were sparked by Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to abandon plans to sign an association agreement with the EU.
Instead, Ukraine struck a deal with Russia in December, which has seen big cuts in the price of gas imports from Russia.
Moscow also supported Ukraine’s finances with a $15 billion purchase of government bonds.
Thousands of Ukrainians have rallied in Kiev in the first anti-government protest of 2014
Some 10,000 people are estimated to have gathered for this latest rally – considerably fewer than the peak of the campaign in December which saw crowds estimated at 200,000.
Many protesters have stayed camped out in Independence Square since the opposition campaign began.
There have been occasional outbreaks of violence as police tried unsuccessfully to clear the square using tear gas.
“The authorities are pretending they cannot hear us. I know it’s hard for us, but we have enough strength to win,” Vitali Klitschko told the crowd.
He called for renewed demonstrations after the Orthodox Christmas holidays on Monday and Tuesday and warned of a general strike.
The last major opposition protest at the end of December was given further impetus by an attack on activist and journalist Tetyana Chornovol, who was severely beaten up on Christmas Day.
She had accused Viktor Yanukovych of corruption over his financing of his official residence outside Kiev.
Viktor Yanukovych denied any allegation of corruption and called for an investigation into the attack on Tetyana Chornovol.
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New mass protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s refusal to sign a trade deal with the EU are planned for Sunday at noon.
They are demanding new elections, and the impeachment of the president.
Rallies continued through the night, with thousands gathered on the main square in the capital Kiev.
Police violently dispersed an opposition camp on Saturday, injuring dozens of people.
New mass protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s refusal to sign a trade deal with the EU are planned for Sunday at noon
President Viktor Yanukovich said he was “outraged” by the police action.
The new rally is planned for Sunday at 12:00.
Jailed opposition leader and ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko urged Ukrainians “not to leave the authorities’ actions unanswered”.
In a message read by her daughter on Saturday, Yulia Tymoshenko urged Ukrainians: “Fly, drive, walk to Kiev from all parts of Ukraine, but gather everyone on 1 December.”
“We can and should remove these authorities,” an opposition party leader Vitali Klitschko told thousands of demonstrators outside Kiev’s St Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery.
“We should come out and show that we will not allow them to humiliate us, we will stand up for our rights.”
Vitali Klitschko said that supporters were travelling from the western city of Lviv and other Ukrainian cities to take part in Sunday’s rally.
Meanwhile, a court in Kiev has banned protested in Independence Square, European Square and at other locations in the city centre until January 7, 2014.
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More than 100,000 people are protesting against Ukrainian government’s move to delay the EU trade deal under pressure from Russia.
Opposition leaders joined the Kiev protest, said to be the largest since the Orange Revolution in 2004.
Police fired tear gas as protesters tried to break through a cordon around government buildings.
A pro-government rally a few miles away attracted about 10,000 people.
Kiev police said they had fired tear gas after protesters threw a smoke grenade at officers in an attempt to break into the Cabinet of Ministers building.
Police fired tear gas as protesters tried to break through a cordon around government buildings
Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal last week, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the EU of blackmailing Ukraine to sign the deal during a summit in Vilnius next week.
People arrived at the rally, on European Square, with families and children, many holding banners with slogans like “I want to live in Europe” or “Ukraine is part of Europe”.
Several rallies in Kiev and other cities have been held over the last few days, but Sunday’s has been the largest so far.
World heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who leads the Udar movement and attended Friday’s rally, was not present.
Ukrainian news agency Unian said he had been flying back from the US after celebrating his daughter’s birthday but his plane was not allowed to land in Kiev because of weather conditions.
On Friday, Ukrainian PM Mykola Azarov said the decision not to sign the deal was motivated solely by economics and was “tactical”. He said it did not alter Ukraine’s overall development strategy.
The Ukrainian government says it is now looking into setting up a joint commission to promote ties between Ukraine, Russia and the EU.
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UEFA has confirmed that yellow cards rules used by the Champions League will not be changed for at least three years.
Seven players are suspended for the Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich final after six were cautioned in the semi-finals.
The rules are different for Euro 2012 when UEFA will wipe the slate clean for yellow cards after the quarter-finals.
A UEFA spokesman said: “Different rules can apply in different competitions. The rules are a result of careful, democratic procedure.”
UEFA has confirmed that yellow cards rules used by the Champions League will not be changed for at least three years
International players’ union FIFPro had made a plea for the six players who are suspended to be allowed to play, which was rejected.
Chelsea’s captain John Terry will also be suspended after being sent off against Barcelona in the semi-final second leg at the Nou Camp.
Michael van Praag, head of UEFA’s Champions League Rules group, was quoted on FIFPro’s website saying: “We have just had three sessions with representatives of the European Clubs’ Association and others, in which we confirmed the rule for the coming three years.
“We did not receive any request whatsoever concerning the yellow card rule, not even from the representative of Bayern Munich. And so we will be continuing the rule for the next three years.”
Before that announcement, Simon Barker – a spokesman for FIFPro – had said: “Anybody committing a serious offence in the semi-final should be awarded a red card and miss the final, but the offences that result in a yellow card do not justify the serious punishment of missing the match of your life.
“Some people say this will give players the licence to kick all and sundry during the semi-final, but that is utter nonsense.
“Any serious offence will result in a red card and that still means exclusion from the final.”
At Euro 2012, only players sent off in the quarter-final or semi-final will be banned from the final in Kiev.
Acting on a judge’s orders, police arrested former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko during her abuse-of-office trial on Friday for violations of court procedures.
Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukraine PM
Kiev’s court has arrested Ukraine’s ex-prime-minister Yulia Tymoshenko with the help of 30 policemen and special servicemen.
The arrest was demanded by a prosecutor over Tymoshenko’s numerous attempts to interfere in the trial.
Her supporters in court, including national lawmakers, squabbled with riot police, trying to prevent them from driving her away in a prison car and shouting:
Dozens of Yulia Tymoshenko‘s supporters then gathered outside the court building in central Kiev and tried to block the road.
At the August 5th hearing she was insulting the current prime-minister Nikolay Azarov during his testimony. The charismatic Tymoshenko, the country’s top opposition leader, has criticized the trial as an attempt by President Viktor Yanukovych to bar her from elections and mocked the court.
Yulia Tymoshenko has refused to rise when addressing the court, as required, and routinely insulted the judge. Her supporters have repeatedly disrupted hearings.
Complying with the presiding judge’s orders, police surrounded Tymoshenko and escorted her out of the courtroom.
Yulia Tymoshenko is currently accused of abuse of office when signing the gas deal with Russia and can’t leave the country.
The 50-year-old opposition leader is charged with abusing her powers by signing a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009 that prosecutors claim was disadvantageous to Ukraine.
Yulia Tymoshenko insists she is innocent, arguing that the contract ended weeks of natural gas disruptions to Ukrainian and European consumers and that she was authorized to sign the deal as prime minister.
[googlead tip=”vertical_mare”]Experts in Ukraine and abroad believe the trial’s real motive is to disqualify Yulia Tymoshenko from upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections by convicting her as a felon.
Yulia Tymoshenko has a long and bitter history with Viktor Yanukovych.
She was the central figure in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution mass protests that threw out Yanukovych’s fraud-tainted victory in a presidential election and led to another vote that brought a pro-Western government to power.
Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko during Orange Revolution 2004
Yulia Tymoshenko became prime minister, but Ukrainians grew frustrated by economic hardships, slow reforms and endless bickering in the Orange camp. As a result, she lost to Kremlin-friendly Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election.
According to her official website:
Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko was born on November 27, 1960 in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine).
Upon graduating from high school in 1979, she continued her education in Dnipropetrovsk State University. Her major was Economics-Cybernetics from the Department of Economics.
While being a student, she married Oleksandr Tymoshenko, in 1979 and gave birth to daughter Eugenia in 1980.
In 1984 Yulia Tymoshenko completed the university with distinction. She started to work as an engineer-economist at the Dnipropetrovsk machine-building plant, named after Lenin.