Petrol Bomb Putsch And The Future Of 21st Century Politics
Russian Information Agency Novosti
February 22, 2014
Ukraine Parliament Considers President’s Ouster, Early Vote
MOSCOW: Opposition figures in Ukraine signaled their intent Saturday to seek the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in parliament and call elections by the end of May as the government showed signs of total capitulation following days of bloody protests.
After midday Saturday, as the legislature was convening, Yanukovych loyalist and parliament speaker Volodymyr Rybak announced his resignation, citing ill-health. The decision came on the heels of the resignation of dozens of deputies from the ruling Party of Regions.
Speaking in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, UDAR party leader Vitali Klitschko said deputies should consider a resolution requiring the president to resign and for the holding of elections before May 25.
As rumors abounded about Yanukovych’s whereabouts – some reports suggested he had left Kiev for the city of Kharkiv in the ethnic Russian-dominated east, where his main support base is located – anti-government crowds freely milled around the district housing the main government buildings.
Developments on Saturday came a day after parliament granted a key opposition by restoring the 2004 constitution, designed to limit presidential powers and make Ukraine a parliamentary republic. A deal overseen by EU envoys and Kremlin-appointed mediator stated that an interim government should be formed in the coming days.
The agreement between the government and the opposition coincided with the withdrawal of riot police from an area in downtown Kiev where most government buildings are located, including the parliament, the Cabinet of ministers and the presidential administration.
The street violence seen in Ukraine’s capital this week is the worst the nation has seen since it gained independence in 1991.
Mass protests initially erupted in late November after the government backed away from deals to deepen political and economic cooperation with the European Union and instead opted for closer ties with Russia.
Although discontent was at first focused on that about-face move on EU ties, rallies took on a more general anti-government quality, calling for the president’s ouster and early elections.
February 22, 2014
Ukraine downfall: President’s whereabouts uncertain as opposition push for resignation
The whereabouts of Ukrainian President Yanukovich are unknown a day after he agreed to opposition demands. Parliament is trying to replace its resigned speaker to push for presidential resignation and an early election.
Ukraine remains chaotic amid the worst political crisis the country has seen in modern history. Viktor Yanukovich has gone missing, with even his immediate staff declining to say where he is.
The presidential residence in Kiev has been abandoned and left virtually unguarded. Some media reports said on Friday that the residents had packed up and left.
Some media reports suggest that Yanukovich is in Kharkov, a city in Eastern Ukraine, which is a stronghold of his Party of Regions. The president is supposedly going to take part in a summit of members of regional parliaments from Eastern and Southern Ukraine. The emergency gathering will be discussing the ongoing crisis and the strategy the Euromaidan-skeptical regions will follow after the opposition gains in Kiev and in the west of the country.
Neither presidential staff nor local authorities in Kharkov confirmed Yanukovich’s visit. The local airport said the presidential plane had not landed there.
Meanwhile in Kiev, the Ukrainian Parliament gathered for a new emergency session. The session started with an announcement that Speaker Vladimir Rybak and First Deputy Speaker Igor Kaletnik have both resigned.
The Party of Regions faction in the parliament lost eight more members on Saturday, as MPs rushed to abandon the sinking ruling coalition. Over the past few days, a total of 34 parliamentarians announced they were parting ways with Yanukovich’s government.
Opposition parties are pushing for adoption of a resolution demanding that Yanukovich resigns the office of the president. If he submits, Ukraine would have to hold early an presidential election by May 25.
Due to the president’s absence, the bills passed by the parliament on Friday have not been passed into law from a technical point of view, because Yanukovich never signed them. Opposition leader, Arseny Yatsenyuk, told fellow MPs that this gives grounds for the president’s resignation.
The bills, previously agreed to by the president and opposition leaders, include a constitutional reform, which strips the presidential office of a lot of power in favor of the parliament, forming a national unity government and holding early parliamentary election.
The opposition-dominated parliament is also seeking Yanukovich’s impeachment and a criminal code reform, which would annul the sentence of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko, currently serving a prison term for overstepping her authority in signing an unfavorably gas deal with Russia, is one of the most adamant critics of the president. During the three months of the confrontation, she called on her supporters to put more pressure on Yanukovich and force him out of power.
On the ground the governmental area of Kiev is under complete opposition control. In a sharp contrast to the deadly confrontation of just days before, there is no police presence in the center of the capital. Opposition fighters are calling on police officers to join their ranks and patrol the streets as members of the “Maidan self-defense force.”
February 22, 2014
Eastern Ukraine rises against Kiev LIVE UPDATES
A gathering of local MPs from the Euro-skeptic east and south of Ukraine has gathered in the city of Kharkov to form a joint response to the developing collapse of the national government.
Saturday, February 22
“The territorial integrity of Ukraine is at risk,” the gathering stated in the resolution.
It added that instability in Ukraine is highly dangerous and may cause unpredictable consequences, considering that the country hosts five nuclear power plants with 15 reactors in total, which some extremists have threatened to attack.
The resent decisions of the national parliament were taken in conditions “of terror, threats of violence and death,” the resolution says. The gathering says the legislative acts may have been passed involuntarily and are neither legitimate nor lawful.
The opposition has broken the agreement with the government signed on Friday, the resolution says.
“Armed gangs have not given over their weapons, they continue taking over governmental buildings, killing citizens and officers of the law,” it says.
The Kharkov public gathering has announced a number of measures local authorities should take in response to the developments in Kiev. They should take full responsibility for all decision in respective regions, with no regard to authorities in Kiev until the constitutional order in Ukraine is restored, a resolution of the gathering says.
The military commanders should take measures to protect arms depots and prevent their take-over and looting by radical opposition activists.
Meanwhile citizens are encouraged to form local militias to protect public order. Local authorities are to fund and support those militias.