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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko have clashed face to face at this year’s Munich Security Conference.
They appeared in a discussion, during which Vitali Klitschko showed Leonid Kozhara images of injuries he said were inflicted by the police on protesters.
Leonid Kozhara suggested some of the opposition were right-wing extremists.
Ukraine has been in turmoil since November, when it scrapped an EU accord in favor of a Russian bailout.
“The Ukrainian people have shown and have proven that they are able to defend their decision on Europe despite repressive measures being taken,” Vitali Klitschko said, the Associated Press reports.
Vitali Klitschko added that the opposition felt stronger because of the support from western friends of Ukraine.
Earlier, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy had said the “future of Ukraine belongs with the EU” while US Secretary of State John Kerry had said the US backed Ukraine’s “fight for democracy”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had accused Western countries of double standards over violent protests.
Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko have clashed face to face at this year’s Munich Security Conference
After Vitali Klitschko showed Leonid Kozhara the images he said were of the effects of police brutality, Kozhara replied by accusing some of the protesters of belonging to far-right groups.
“Are you with the extremist groups who wear some logos and emblems that looks like Nazi style emblems on them?” he asked Vitali Klitschko.
“Are you with the extremists who are attacking the police with Molotov cocktails?” he added.
On the issue of whether Ukraine should orient itself more towards the EU or Russia, Leonid Kozhara also pointed out that “there are eight million ethnic Russians living in the country”.
“Do you think they are happy when European politicians say: <<You must make a strategic choice, you must take Ukraine away from Russia and put it somewhere else>>?”
The issue of Ukraine protester Dmytro Bulatov was also raised at the conference.
Dmytro Bulatov went missing for eight days and said he had been kidnapped and tortured by captors who spoke with Russian accents.
The activist is now in hospital in Kiev under guard from both police and anti-government demonstrators.
Leonid Kozhara told Al-Jazeera television: “Physically this man is in a good condition. The only thing he has is a scratch on one of his cheeks.”
He went on to say it seemed that Dmytro Bulatov’s claim to have been kidnapped and tortured was “not absolutely true”.
However, the foreign ministry later issued a statement saying his comments “do not reflect the real attitude of Minister Kozhara on this tragic situation”.
“The minister is profoundly sorry for what happened to Dmytro Bulatov and wishes him a speedy recovery.”
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Arseniy Yatsenyuk has announced that Ukraine’s opposition protests will continue after he rejected President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer to appoint him as prime minister.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the opposition was generally ready to accept leadership, but several key demands must be met, including new elections.
Clashes continued overnight. Activists stormed a Kiev building housing police.
Viktor Yanukovych’s proposal came amid new efforts to end the deadly unrest.
He offered the post of prime minister to Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the position of deputy PM to former boxer Vitali Klitschko following talks on Saturday.
The opposition – confident in its position – appears to have taken these offers as a sign of weakness on Viktor Yanukovych’s part, and is forging ahead with the campaign to unseat him.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk has announced that Ukraine’s opposition protests will continue after he rejected President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer to appoint him as prime minister
Speaking to large crowds in central of Kiev late on Saturday, the opposition leaders repeated their demands.
“Viktor Yanukovych announced that the government wasn’t ready to take the responsibility for the country and offered to the opposition to lead the government,” said Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
“What is our response to this? We are not afraid of the responsibility for the destiny of Ukraine.”
Later, Arseniy Yatsenyuk tweeted: “No deal @ua_yanukovych, we’re finishing what we started. The people decide our leaders, not you.”
Arseniy Yatsenyuk says that Tuesday, when a special session of parliament has been called, will be “judgement day”.
The opposition is demanding that a free trade agreement with the EU be signed and political prisoners be freed, including former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.
They are also demanding early presidential elections. A vote is not due until 2015.
Vitali Klitschko told the crowd that they would press ahead with their demands and that talks would continue: “We are not turning back and we will keep discussing and trying to find a direction.”
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Opposition leaders in Ukraine have issued an ultimatum to President Viktor Yanukovych, after talks failed to resolve the political stalemate.
Vitali Klitschko said he would lead pro-EU protesters “on the attack” in the capital, Kiev, if the government refused to call snap elections.
PM Mykola Azarov said compromises “might be possible”, but the opposition should avoid ultimatums.
Two activists were killed in clashes with police in Kiev on Wednesday.
Prosecutors confirmed they had died from gunshot wounds.
They were the first fatalities since the anti-government protests flared up in late November over Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to pull out of a landmark treaty with the EU.
Late on Wednesday, Ukraine’s Radio Liberty reported the death of a third activist.
The body of Yuri Verbitsky was found in a forest outside Kiev, bearing signs of torture, according to the broadcaster.
He had reportedly been abducted earlier this week with activist Igor Lutsenko, who was later released. Igor Lutsenko is said to be in hospital.
Hundreds of people have been injured in the clashes, though some of the violence has been blamed on a little-known far-right group, Right Sector.
Opposition leaders in Ukraine have issued an ultimatum to President Viktor Yanukovych, after talks failed to resolve the political stalemate
Wednesday’s unrest came on the day that new anti-protest laws entered into force. Parliament approved the laws last week, triggering renewed protests which spilled into violence on Sunday night.
As dawn broke on Thursday, the barricades were still burning, billowing black smoke from the piles of tyres that now mark the front line between the riot police and the protestors.
Speaking at a mass rally on Wednesday evening, Vitali Klitschko said the president could end the stand-off “without bloodshed” by calling early elections, but that “tomorrow, if the president does not respond… then we will go on the attack”, to roars of approval from the crowd.
Vitali Klitschko said police were preparing to clear demonstrators out of the main protest encampment at Maidan (Independence Square).
“We must do all we can to stop them clearing us out,” he told demonstrators.
Another opposition leader, Arseniy Yatseniuk, said the government had 24 hours to respond to the demands, which also include the lifting of the new anti-protest laws.
“If this does not happen, we will march forward together. If it’s a bullet to the head, then it’s a bullet to the head,” he declared.
But the prime minister said opposition leaders should be “more humble”.
“The opposition leaders should move away from the language of ultimatums,” Mykola Azarov said.
“We are ready to compromise, to agree. The opposition leaders should understand that they also bear responsibility in avoiding a civil war, and bloodshed, and so does the government.”
Wednesday’s violence began in a small area around Hrushevskyy Street, a road leading to government buildings close to the protest camp at Maidan.
Security forces later fell back to their positions after fierce clashes with protesters, but by the afternoon had pushed on through the barricades.
Protesters again hurled petrol bombs and stones while riot police responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Thousands of protesters also gathered in Independence Square.
There was a crush at one of the narrow entrances into the square when protesters trying to get in met protesters who were trying to get out to fight the police.
At least two ambulances were seen carrying away the wounded.
Officials confirmed two bodies were found with bullet wounds close to the scene of the clashes.
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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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President Viktor Yanukovych’s party has claimed victory in Ukraine’s parliamentary election.
The Party of Regions has more than 36%, and the opposition party of Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in jail, has just over 21%, with one-third of party list votes counted.
It appears Viktor Yanukovych’s party is also ahead in single mandate districts, which form half of all the seats.
Western governments have condemned the jailing of Yulia Tymoshenko.
Yulia Tymoshenko leads a coalition of opposition groups – the United Opposition Fatherland bloc. She was given a seven-year jail sentence last year for abuse of power, and voted from her prison cell.
Her bloc says its own parallel vote count confirms that Viktor Yanukovych’s party is in the lead, but with a smaller percentage of votes than the party claims.
The complicated electoral system means a final result is some way off.
Thousands of observers were in Ukraine for the vote, whichViktor Yanukovych hopes will boost his democratic credentials.
His bitter rivalry with Yulia Tymoshenko dates back to the 2004 Orange Revolution, in which Tymoshenko and her allies established a pro-Western government, overturning Viktor Yanukovych’s victory in an election widely condemned as rigged.
Since his dramatic political comeback Viktor Yanukovych has forged closer relations with Moscow, Ukraine’s former master in the Soviet era.
The regional security organization OSCE is expected to give its verdict on Sunday’s election at a news conference at 14:30 local time.
Correspondents say the signs are that the Party of Regions will get a simple majority in the 450-member parliament.
Officials said the election had passed off smoothly, with a turnout of some 45%, about average for Ukraine.
Early results indicated the Communists – traditional allies of Viktor Yanukovych – were in third place with about 15%.
The new party of world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, called Udar (Punch), was on about 13%.
The ultra-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party was also poised to surpass the 5% threshold necessary to get seats in parliament. It was polling 8%, according to the early results.
Party of Regions MP Borys Kolesnikov, a deputy prime minister, said his party was likely to dominate the single-seat constituencies.
“There are 225 single-seat constituencies and we see our candidates winning two-thirds of them,” he said.
And Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said “we are expecting that the Party of Regions will take a majority in the new parliament”.
After casting his vote in the capital, Kiev, Vitali Klitschko said he was “going to parliament to fight”.
He listed his “five key punches” as corruption, indifference of the authorities, lack of local governance, inequality and poverty.
There were 3,500 accredited foreign observers, including more than 600 from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Earlier, Western officials expressed concerns over campaigning.
In a New York Times editorial, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton cited “worrying trends” in the interim election report from the OSCE (of which Ukraine is due to take over the rotating chair in January).
These included government resources being used to favor ruling-party candidates, media restrictions, vote-buying and lack of transparency on the electoral commissions.
Opposition supporters say Yulia Tymoshenko was prosecuted and imprisoned last year in order to prevent her running in the election.
The EU indefinitely postponed its association agreement, including a free trade pact, after the jailing.
Viktor Yanukovych, who has been president for three years and faces re-election in 2015, has rejected calls to free his rival. He says she was sentenced by an independent court.
Ukraine, with a population of 46 million, has been hit by the global economic downturn and unpopular pension and tax policies.
The Party of Regions recently attempted to assuage public opinion by boosting public-sector salaries and pensions.
But the reforms exacerbated a $2 billion budget deficit and called into question the likelihood of securing IMF lending, correspondents say.
Ukrainians are voting in a parliamentary election Western officials are billing as a litmus test of its democratic credentials.
Polls opened at 08:00 and pit a main opposition grouping against President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.
Viktor Yanukovych has been criticized in the West for the jailing of his main rival, former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.
A number of smaller parties are aiming to capitalize on disillusionment.
These include the liberal Udar party of boxing champion Vitali Klitschko – known as Dr. Ironfist – and the far-right Svoboda party.
Polls will be open for 12 hours and while some counts will come in very quickly, a final result is expected on Monday.
Half of the seats in the 450-member parliament will be filled by elected parties on a candidate list basis.
The other half will be filled by individual candidates voted in on a first-past-the-post system.
Some 5,000 candidates are standing for election.
These are some of the most closely watched elections in Ukraine’s history, with 3,500 accredited foreign observers, including more than 600 from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Western officials have voiced concerns over campaigning.
In a New York Times editorial this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton cited “worrying trends” in the interim election report from the OSCE (of which Ukraine is due to take over the rotating chair in January).
These included government resources being used to favor ruling party candidates, media restrictions, vote-buying and lack of transparency on the electoral commissions.
Critics claim Yulia Tymoshenko was prosecuted and imprisoned last year in order to prevent her running in the election.
She is serving a seven-year prison sentence after being charged with overstepping her powers as prime minister four years ago when she signed a gas deal with Russia.
The EU indefinitely postponed its association agreement, including a free trade pact, after the jailing.
Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party has joined with other opposition parties to form a united front.
Viktor Yanukovych – who has been president for three years and faces re-election in 2015 – has rejected calls to free his rival, maintaining that she was sentenced by an independent court.
He insists European integration is one of his government’s main goals and will hope his pro-business party can hold on to the parliamentary majority it enjoys.
Ukraine’s 46 million-strong population has been hit by the global economic downturn and unpopular pension and tax policies.
Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions recently attempted to assuage public opinion by boosting public sector salaries and pensions – although this also exacerbated a $2 billion budget deficit and called into question the likelihood of securing IMF lending, correspondents say.
Ukrainian authorities hope a good assessment by 3,500 international election observers will reopen the door to the association agreement.
Vitali Klitschko’s popularity has grown because of his opposition to Viktor Yanukovych and because, as a newcomer, he is so far untainted by Ukraine’s corrosive politics which, correspondents say, are blighted by corruption and cronyism.
Svoboda’s strong anti-government stance and its passionate defence of Ukraine’s culture and language has also gained support, although the party is also known for racist and anti-Semitic statements.
Ukrainian Police in capital Kiev have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters angry over a new language law that boosts the status of Russian.
The clashes erupted outside a building where President Viktor Yanukovych was scheduled to give a speech.
The new law, drafted by Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, was adopted by parliament on Tuesday without a debate on numerous amendments.
World-famous boxer Vitali Klitschko was among the activists hurt in the unrest.
The interior ministry said 10 anti-riot police from the elite Berkut unit were admitted to hospital with injuries. The ministry said protesters assaulted police with bottles and aerosol sprays.
The police were equipped with helmets, shields and batons.
Ukrainian Police in capital Kiev have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters angry over a new language law that boosts the status of Russian
Viktor Yanukovych decided to postpone his speech on Wednesday as clashes continued. He invited parliament leaders and heads of parliamentary factions to meet him to discuss the resignations.
Later he said he would have to call an early election if MPs failed to “stabilize parliament’s work”. A parliamentary election is officially scheduled for October.
Correspondents say about 1,000 opposition activists took part in the demonstration.
WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko called Tuesday’s vote “political suicide” and urged opposition MPs to boycott parliament. He heads an opposition group called Udar (Blow).
The controversial vote prompted a request from Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn to step down. “I have been fooled, Ukraine has been fooled,” he complained.
Volodymyr Lytvyn’s deputy Mykola Tomenko also tendered his resignation.
Meanwhile, seven MPs angry at the vote have gone on hunger strike.
The bill will become law once signed off by President Viktor Yanukovych, who is seen by his critics as being close to Moscow. The bedrock of his support is in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.
The second reading vote took place despite scuffles in the chamber between the ruling party and opposition MPs.
The bill grants Russian, mother tongue of most people in east and south Ukraine, “regional language” status.
Critics fear it will dilute Ukraine’s sovereignty and help return Ukraine to Moscow’s sphere of influence.
While Ukrainian would remain the country’s official language, Russian could be used in courts, hospitals, schools and other institutions in Russian-speaking regions. In practice Russian is already used widely in official establishments in Ukraine.
The new law says local officials can use a “regional language” if at least 10% of the local population are native speakers of that language.
Those officials would have to know the regional language and be able to use it in their official duties.
People will be allowed to choose which language they want their documents issued in – Ukrainian or regional.
The new law de facto grants Russian the status of an official language – but not the state one – in most of Ukraine.
Ukraine language law:
• Russian, mother tongue of most people in east and south Ukraine, would get “regional language” status
• In Russian-speaking areas Russian could be used in courts, hospitals, schools and other institutions
• Ukrainian remains the official state language
• People would be able to choose which language they want their documents issued in – Ukrainian or regional
• President Viktor Yanukovych’s party drafted language law
• His power base is Russian-speaking east
• Critics accuse him of being too cozy with Moscow
British boxer Dereck Chisora has been arrested by German police after a brawl with fellow boxer David Haye in Munich at the post-fight news conference after Chisora was defeated by Vitali Klitschko.
Dereck Chisora and his trainer, Don Charles, were taken from Munich airport by police as part of the investigation.
David Haye and Dereck Chisora clashed at the post-fight press conference after Chisora was beaten on points by defending WBC champion Vitali Klitschko.
Police are still searching for David Haye, who was not present at the hotel when sought for questioning.
David Haye showed up at the news conference to confront Vitali Klitschko, who he believes changed his mind on a potential fight between the pair.
However, that sparked a verbal exchange with Dereck Chisora and the pair squared up to each other before a brawl ensued.
Dereck Chisora accused David Haye of “glassing him”, before saying at least four times that he would shoot the former WBA heavyweight champion.
He added: “If David doesn’t fight me, I am going to physically burn him.”
Dereck Chisora arrived at the airport to return home, but was stopped by police, who have detained him at their Munich headquarters.
A Munich Criminal Police spokesman said: “Police picked up Mr. Chisora at the airport at approximately 10:30 a.m. [German time] and are bringing him in for the investigation.
“They also picked up Mr. Chisora’s trainer for questioning. The police went to the hotel to speak to them but we had been informed they had just checked out.”
The spokesperson added: “At present we do not know where Mr. Haye is.
“We are currently looking for him. He was not at the hotel this morning and we have not seen him at the airport.”
British boxer Dereck Chisora has been arrested by German police after a brawl with fellow boxer David Haye in Munich
Dereck Chisora has had part of his fight purse withheld by the World Boxing Council after he slapped Vitali Klitschko at the pre-fight weigh-in on Friday.
He appeared to spit water towards Vitali Klitschko’s brother, Wladimir, moments before Saturday night’s bout began.
More controversy followed when Dereck Chisora exchanged words with the Klitschko’s after the result was announced.
The British Boxing Board of Control has said it will review the incident.
Dereck Chisora – David Haye brawl full transcript
Bernd Boente, manager of Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko: With the bad experience we’ve had with British fighters, we will now look for other countries. Contrary to David Haye, Dereck Chisora really went for it. He really tried.
David Haye (from rear of the room): You don’t want to fight David Haye, no?
Boente: You had an offer. You didn’t accept it. Now you are out. You are out. Out, out, out. You cannot talk yourself back into the fight; you have no belts. Chisora showed heart, contrary to you. You showed your toe [referring to Haye’s toe injury].
Haye: I accepted your offer in December.
Dereck Chisora: We’ll get it on in London – be quiet. David Haye is an embarrassment, Sky Sports don’t do Box Office any more because of David Haye. He messed it up for all those young fighters coming through. I’m going to give you two slaps for that. If Haye is a fighter, he should fight me.
Haye: You’ve lost three fights in a row (actually three of his last four).
Chisora: Let’s fight.
Chisora’s promoter Frank Warren: I’ve got a great idea. If Dereck fights David, the winner fights Vitali.
Boente: Sounds like the perfect plan.
Haye: Vitali said he could knock me out, do you think you can knock me out?
Chisora’s trainer Don Charles: Be quiet, can security get him out of here?
Haye: Vitali said after his last fight, ‘I want to fight David Haye’. Where is he now? He said he wanted to fight me, I agreed the money, I agreed everything in December.
Chisora: How’s your toe? How’s your toe? How’s your toe?
Haye: You’ve lost your last three fights, you lost to Tyson Fury. You’re a loser.
Chisora: Tell that to my face. I’m coming down, tell that to my face.
Chisora leaves his seat and approaches Haye at the back of the room, where a melee ensues. Haye at one point picks up a video camera tripod and swings it.
The two are eventually pulled apart before Chisora returns to the front of the room.
Chisora: (Shouting and indicating towards Haye). He glassed me. I swear to God, David, I am going to shoot you. I am going to shoot you. I am going to physically shoot David Haye. He glassed me. He glassed me. He glassed me. I’m not having it. He glassed me.
Haye’s trainer Adam Booth approaches Chisora, his head bleeding.
Chisora: (Referring to Booth’s cut) I’m sorry about that. Adam, your fighter glassed me.
Booth: I want to know who glassed me.
Chisora: As you were trying to hold your fighter away, he [Haye] probably glassed you by mistake.
Booth: You hit me with a bottle.
Chisora: David had a bottle in his hand.
Booth: No, no, David didn’t hit me with a bottle. I want to know who glassed me. Someone hit me with a bottle.
The two are separated before Booth addresses Vitali Klitschko.
Booth: Vitali, you are a great fighter but your manager is an embarrassment to the sport. Congratulations for winning.
Chisora: (Addressing Booth) Either we do it in the ring or outside of the ring. Because I want him. If David don’t fight me, Adam, I am telling you the God’s honest truth, I am going to physically burn him. So you tell him I said that. I am going to find him.