- Ukrainian President Insists He Won't Resign, Slams Opposition
- Ukraine Parliament Votes to Release Tymoshenko From Jail
- Ukraine Parliament Considers President's Ouster, Early Vote
- Obama, Putin Hold ‘Constructive’ Call on Ukraine Crisis
- US Lauds Deal to Halt Ukraine Violence
KIEV, February 22 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine’s parliament voted Saturday to impeach the president as opposition parties rushed to consolidate their apparently growing hold on authority in the former Soviet nation.
Speaking from a location in his political stronghold in the east of the country, however, Viktor Yanukovych defied attempts to unseat him, describing them as a coup.
In the same session of parliament, deputies voted to hold early presidential elections on May 25.
After overwhelmingly voting to force Yanukovych’s removal as president, deputies in the Verkhovna Rada broke into a rendition of the national anthem.
The impeachment vote marks a dramatic development for a leader’s whose rule had seemed in little doubt in late November, when a wave of protests was ignited by the government surprise decision to back away from closer ties with the EU in favor of greater economic cooperation with Russia.
But Yanukovych insisted in a televised statement before the vote Saturday that he would neither resign nor sign any agreement with what he called “bandits terrorizing the country.”
The remarks were a defiant rejection of calls by the opposition for the president to step aside and potentially set the stage for destabilizing political confrontation in the days ahead.
“I’m doing everything to prevent bloodshed in the country,” Yanukovych said in a televised interview. “They are trying to intimidate me and induce me to resign voluntarily. But I do not intend to resign.”
In the statement broadcast on Ukrainian television, Yanukovych said the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine had all the hallmarks of a coup attempt and likened opposition forces’ activities to those of the Nazis in the 1930s.
Lawmakers from Yanukovych’s fast-disintegrating Party of Regions earlier in the day gathered in the eastern city of Kharkiv to declaim the opposition and resolved that rule in the regions should be taken over by local government, a clear gesture of planned defiance to the order taking shape in Kiev.
Combative remarks by speakers at that congress have aroused alarms of further violence and a possible surge in separatist sentiments in a region that has bristled at a perceived increase in Ukrainian nationalism.
Also Saturday, parliament voted to release former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko from jail in a session that also saw the appointment of a new Interior Minister and the dismissal of the country’s top prosecutor.
Deputies voted to appoint a member of Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party, Arsen Avakov, as Interior Minister.
Avakov will be replacing outgoing Interior Minister, Vitaly Zakharchenko, who the opposition charge with being responsible for the crackdown on government opponents that culminated in violence this week in which at least 80 people were killed.
Another Tymoshenko ally, Alexander Turchinov, was approved as speaker of the parliament, replacing a close Yanukovych associate.
A day earlier, parliament voted to approve a key opposition demand by restoring the 2004 constitution, designed to limit presidential powers and make Ukraine a parliamentary republic. The 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.
With the disappearance of police presence in central Kiev, protesters freely roamed around the government district Saturday and also invaded the grounds of Yanukovych’s palatial country residence outside the city.
Televised images of the opulent Yanukovych residence, which houses a vast automobile collection, a pet zoo and a golf course, is likely to cause ill-feeling in nation scourged by unemployment and poverty, and where average monthly salaries are around $400.
The street violence seen in Ukraine’s capital this week is the worst the nation has seen since it gained independence in 1991.
Although the discontent that erupted last year was at first focused on the about-face move on EU ties, rallies took on a more general anti-government quality, calling for the president’s ouster and early elections.
The months-long demonstrations have seen occasional outbursts of violence between radical protesters and police, but the scale of bloodshed of the past few days marked an escalation that provoked international outrage and forced authorities to mediate a negotiated solution to the unrest.
Authorities say around 80 people have died, although opposition parties believe the real number may be much greater. The Health Ministry said Saturday more than 600 were injured over five days of fighting.
Authorities and opposition traded accusations over who instigated the round of violence that erupted Tuesday after a crowd marched toward parliament intent on storming the building.
An uneasy truce was called Wednesday, only to be shattered early the following day. Dozens were killed Thursday, mainly from gunshot wounds.
Opposition figures accuse security forces of firing on protesters, while the authorities maintain the increasingly well-armed and aggressive anti-government movement attempted to mount a violent seizure of power.
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- lamaCoup20:15, 22/02/2014Impeach? But, it was a coup d'etat...
- Mikhail1228Impeach, this is a joke!04:47, 23/02/2014Nuland, McCain and EU ministers have been standing in Kiev calling for the protestors to fight against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Nuland is there now handing out cookies, sandwiches and kool-aid to neo-nazi hooligan thugs. We stand behind you they they have been saying. These creten nazi thugs emboldened like former Georgian president Shaakashvili was when he attacked South Ossetia. Recently Nuland was overheard on her cell phone orchestrating who the new leaders of Ukraine will be. Why is the US and the EU interfering and meddling in another nation with a democratically elected government? Impartial international observers said the election was free and fair. Why is the US and the EU calling this government undemocratic and facilitating its violent overthrow? Place the blame for this violence squarely where it belongs, with the US and it's EU vassal states! The country will break into two and western Ukraine can sell its sunflowers to the EU because its economy will be based solely upon sunflowers!! I hope that this really pisses off Putin so he makes the US his nations archenemy and number one foe. What kind of friend instigates this kind of shit on Russia's border? Answer, no friend at all, only an enemy would do this!!!
- R.Deus-von HomeyerRE:SUNFLOWERS17:50, 23/02/2014My dearest,dearest Mikail1228,
Please,please RESTRAIN of using OFFENSIVE and INSULTING words.
A pro po...the sinflower seeds,which are sold here,in the supermarkets in Berlin,come from my native country...BULGARIA! Therefore NO need for Ukrainian sunflowers!
Hey,do NOT get exsited about the RANNT of CNN,BBC and other Western journalists.
The German TV is also talking nonsense.Yesterday a lady said:"PUTIN HAT UKRAINE mit HANDELSKRIEG gedroht" In English:"PUTIN was threataning Ukraine with Trade war!"
I personally heard ,when Putin said in November(in Russian),that if Ukraine signs the Assosiation Agreement with the EU,it can have consequiences for it ,if it wants to join the Comercial Union b/ Russia,Kaachstan,Armenia a.o.
Since December PUTIN did NOT say ONE word about Ukraina...and that is GOOD!
- arsan_lupinIt isn't a coup when the Verkhovna Rada follows the law -02:45, 24/02/2014Constitution of Ukraine as passed on 28 June 1996, and readopted on 1 October 2010
Chapter V: President of Ukraine
“The President of Ukraine may be removed from office by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the procedure of impeachment, in the event that he or she commits state treason or other crime …
For cause, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, by no less than two-thirds of its constitutional composition, adopts a decision on the accusation of the President of Ukraine. …”
Verkhovna Rada voted 328 of the 447 deputies – a 73% vote and 30 above the threshold required by the above Constitutional Article. Apparently many of Yanukovych’s allies switched sides, no doubt to distance themselves from the entire affair. The Law is The Law – and for once The Law has spoken in Ukraine.
Also, please keep in mind that the definition of “impeachment” is neither “conviction” nor “removal from office” – it means “indictment and subpoena to trial”. He cannot be officially removed from office without an investigation, approval from the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, and the Vote For Removal by no less than 75% of the Verkhovna Rada. Rada Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov was named interim president only because Viktor Yanukovych abandoned his post and went into hiding.
Other than expressing their opinions on the matter, neither the USA, the EU, nor Russia has had any involvement in the crisis, other than act as mediators in efforts to stop the violence on both sides. To say otherwise is an attempt to find an excuse other than the truth: the Ukrainian people got sick and tired of one of the most corrupt governments in the world, and they caused all of this to happen all by themselves. People do that sometimes … for example when US Present Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998.
Also - isn't making up trumped up accusations against your own country more than a little hypocritical? Why are you living in comfort in the USA, instead of living off the average $400/month Yanukovych's Ukraine has given their people, Mikey? Just wondering ...
One of the main achievements of the 6th BRICS Summit was the signing of an official document on establishing a New Development Bank with a declared capital of $100 billion. The creation of the bank is an important step towards institutionalizing BRICS and strengthening its positions in the world in the long run.