Mass protests in Kiev: LIVE UPDATES
Published time: December 07, 2013 05:35
Edited time: December 14, 2013 12:43
Edited time: December 14, 2013 12:43
Hundreds of police officers have moved in on protest camps in central Kiev, as thousands of demonstrators continue to rally over the government’s suspension of a key EU trade deal. The protests have been underway for almost three weeks.
Go to Part 1 of live updates.
Saturday, December 14
12:28 GMT: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has suspended the Mayor of Kiev, Aleksandr Popov, and deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Vladimir Sivkovich, from office.
12:01 GMT: Kiev’s mayor and the country’s top security official were involved in the brutal eviction of a protest camp by Berkut [special police unit] on November 30, Ukraine’s general prosecution said. The prosecution is now seeking house arrest for the two. The prosecutor general is advocating their removal from office.
“The investigation is preparing a request to the court asking for the two officials to be put under house arrest,” Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said.
11:45 GMT: The Ukrainian government will sign a package of agreements with Russia next week which will provide new jobs, said Ukrainian PM Nikolay Azarov, addressing the protesters on European Square.
“Our market is in Russia,” said the PM. According to Azarov, the agreement will be profitable to a number of Ukrainian industries, particularly in the spheres of aircraft and mechanical engineering.
Azarov also stressed Ukraine is not joining the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, adding that Ukraine is continuing to move towards EU integration.
11:22 GMT: The leader of the opposition nationalist party Bratstvo (Brotherhood), Dmitry Korchinsky, who is suspected of organizing the mass public disorder on December 1, has left Ukraine, says the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal affairs.
The authorities haven’t specified the exact whereabouts of the opposition leader, saying only that the investigation is ongoing.
On December 1, scuffles between the security cordon and the opposition took place near the presidential administration in Kiev, after which over 140 police officers were injured with 75 of them taken to hospital. Nearly 165 activists sought medical help after these disturbances.
Kiev administration said this mass disorder was mostly coordinated by the opposition party, Bratstvo. However, Korchinsky claimed that “Bratstvo does not ever take part in any action, any provocations.”
According to the statement of Ukrainian PM Nikolay Azarov of December 2, “The Ukrainian government is not interested in provocations, but among the opposition there are ‘ultras’ – those who are intently organizing the provocations. Among the provocateurs are the Bratstvo organisation and some people from the Svoboda (Freedom) group.”
11:12 GMT:“Ukraine should be a proper partner of the EU, not just its ‘appendix’,” said Ukrainian PM Nikolay Azarov, addressing the protesters supporting the ruling Party of the Regions on European Square.
Azarov explained the position of the government towards the association agreement. He stressed that Ukraine couldn’t have signed an agreement ‘which would lead the country to bankruptcy’.
09:52 GMT: A police cordon is set up near European Square, blocking nearby roads and passageways.
The cordon’s main aim is to prevent confrontations between the protesters. European Square, where the ruling Party of Regions is launching a rally, is situated next to Independence Square, the main location for the pro-European opposition.
09:09 GMT: Russian FM Sergey Lavrov has criticized the policy of the EU towards Ukraine in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel.
“Russia has no doubt that provocateurs stand behind the mass protests in Ukraine,” said Lavrov.
Lavrov defended the Ukrainian government’s right to take decisions on its national policy and also chided Western officials who are demanding immediate signing of the association agreement.
He stressed that the EU’s motives have nothing to do with the interests of the Ukrainians.
The Ukrainian people and its government should settle the conflict on their own, the FM said.
08:31 GMT: Ukraine’s national counter-terrorism center is on alert after receiving a number anonymous tips of upcoming bombing attacks during large public gatherings in Kiev, the center announced.
All the measures taken by the Ukrainian Security Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other authorities “are aimed to provide security for Ukrainian citizens and prevent any terrorist attacks,” the statement said.
The measures are preventive in nature and include “the exchange of information between executive bodies and checks-up of all personnel and equipment,” which would be needed in case of emergency, it added.
07:26 GMT: Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka reported on the ongoing investigations into the mass protests in Kiev to a delegation from the European Committee for Prevention of Torture (CPT), his office said.
He said that over 400 people had sought police help after they were injured during mass protests in Kiev since they started on November 24. Nearly 200 of them were policemen and just 18 were students, he stressed.
Pshonka gave an assurance that his office is paying close attention to all the investigations, both against alleged rioters among the protest activists and police officers suspected of brutality.
“Today we have received the results of the Ministry investigation over the events of November 30, which we are going to analyze,” he told CRP president, Latif Huseynov.
“We are trying to find the provocateurs both from the opposition and the police force,” he added in a reference to the brutal eviction of a protest camp by Berkut [special police unit], which was widely criticized both in Ukraine and other nations.
06:22 GMT: The ruling Party of Regions is launching a rally to support the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, Itar-Tass reports. It will last the whole weekend, party officials say. The demonstration will take place on European Square next to the Ukrainian parliament.
Several thousand protesters, carrying Ukrainian flags and banners, had already gathered in Mariinsky Park near the parliament building in the morning. Most people at the rally come from eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, where support for the government is strong.
“We came here to support our president. Ukraine needs a stable economy,” said one of the protesters. The motto of the rally is “Save Ukraine – our common motherland.” At the same time, opposition activists are arriving for a public gathering on Independence Square. “The talks between the opposition and the president failed yesterday. So we have to come out onto the streets if we want to be heard,” says opposition leader, Vitaly Klitschko.
00:52 GMT: Mass protests hinder the interests of the state, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara told Inter TV channel on Friday evening. According to Kozhara, the mass protests harm Ukraine’s position during talks with the European Union, with EU officials saying “we should sign right away” since the protesters are demanding nothing more than for Ukraine to partner up with the EU. On the other hand, when Ukraine negotiates trade and gas prices with Russia, officials there tell the country’s representatives to first “sort out” everything at home and figure out what Ukraine wants.
Friday, December 13
23:48 GMT: US Democratic and Republican senators introduced a resolution that asks the US to consider the use of sanctions against Ukraine if violence against protesters continues to take place. The resolution urges a “peaceful and democratic conclusion” to the demonstrations.
"It is absolutely imperative that this weekend's protests be allowed to proceed peacefully," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Friday.
21:50 GMT: Senator John McCain is scheduled to visit Ukraine on Saturday and Sunday, The Daily Beast reported. The trip comes after US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland visited Kiev this week, even going to Independence Square to see the protests firsthand.
“Senator McCain is traveling to Ukraine to meet with government officials, opposition leaders and civil society at this critical time as Ukrainians struggle for their future,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said.
The Democratic chairman of the Senate's Europe subcommittee, Chris Murphy, will be joining McCain in Kiev on Sunday.
20:28 GMT: Kiev authorities said they identified policemen who violated the law during protests in the city center. According to preliminary reports, some of the officers did use unnecessary force against protesters.
14:00 GMT: President Viktor Yanukovich has proposed imposing a moratorium “on any forcible actions”by both law enforcement troops and opposition activists.
He has also suggested amnestying the people who were recently arrested for involvement in riots in Kiev.
"As for a punishment for those guilty, where we are sure let's punish them. Where people suffered, let's make a decision and vote for amnesty on Tuesday and we will settle all issues," Yanukovich at a nationwide roundtable meeting at Ukraine Palace in the capital.
13:57 GMT: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has said that he and his government will not resign, and only the parliament has the right to fire him, the presidential press service reported.
"Procedure for the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers requires a vote in the parliament, and then the corresponding actions of the president. Voting has already taken place, and you saw it," Yanukovich said, referring to a vote of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers, headed by Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov, on December 3, which survived a “no confidence” vote. The motion of no confidence was called in the Rada on December 2 by the Homeland (Batkivshchina), Strike (Udar), and Freedom (Svoboda) opposition parties. Only 186 MPs voted for the motion, well short of the majority of 226 needed for it to pass.
13:45 GMT: The Russian Foreign Ministry is ‘appalled’ by the remarks of US representatives towards the situation in Ukraine, Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister told the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
“They are not recommendations but ‘peremptory demands’ towards the Ukrainian government. They are formulated trenchantly and reflect a certain interplay of emotions and a special course of actions,” he adds.
13:15 GMT: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich proposes amnesty for those detained during recent mass protests in Kiev. “I believe we should turn the page over. I propose at the round-table (talks with the opposition) to release people detained during the protests, even those who were charged,” said Yanukovich in a statement.
The amnesty should only apply to activists who were detained accidentally, while those guilty are to be punished, added Yanukovich.
The Kiev court has already released eight of nine activists detained after their attempt to retake the presidential administration in Kiev on December 1. Some of the activists were fined or released on bail, some got probation, while one was under house arrest. However, one activist still remains in custody pending trial.
12:15 GMT: All three Ukrainian opposition leaders will attend round-table talks, which are scheduled on Friday with President Viktor Yanukovich, reports Reuters
Vitaly Klitschko of the Udar (Strike) Party, Arseny Yatsenyuk of the Batkivschina (Fatherland) Party and Oleg Tyagnibok of the Svoboda (Freedom) Party said they will try to find a compromise to the crisis which brought hundreds of thousands of people out in protest on the streets of Kiev.
"We will pass your demands on to [Yanukovich]. We will fight for our general victory," said Yatsenyuk, addressing the crowds on Independence Square.
12:03 GMT: Both opposition and pro-government protesters are planning to hold demonstrations on Sunday, reports Interfax-Ukraine.
The Party of the Regions is planning to organize their demonstration on European Square next to Verhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament. The meeting of the pro-government supporters is scheduled for 10.00 GMT (14.00 local time) according to the Ukrainian newspaper “Vesti”. All in all, over 200 thousand pro-government protesters will attend the meeting.
“We are not going to have any confrontations with the opposition. We just want to be heard,” says the leader of the Party of the Regions, Alexander Efremov.
At the same time, the opposition parties, Svoboda (Freedom), Udar (Strike) and Bat’kivshchina are also preparing for a public gathering on Independence Square. Hundreds of thousand people are scheduled to take part in the rally.
10:45 GMT: The protest camps in central Kiev are being secured by 4,000 members of the pro-nationalist ‘defense forces’, as they call themselves. Anyone can join their ranks, according to a statement from one of the event’s organizers, Ukraine’s Interfax reports.
They will be taught specialist skills, like first-aid and manning barricades. The organizers of the opposition camps are hoping that such little armies will become a mainstay of the opposition, as it tries to insert some order into its ranks.