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Russia without Ukraine is a country;
Russia with Ukraine is an empire.

During the Great War, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Lenin took it back
During the Great Pariotic War, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Stalin took it back
During the Winter Olympiad, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Putin let it slip away



Ukraine Protests - Opposition Demands

Protests January 2014After two months of protest, Ukraine’s opposition believed it was gaining the upper hand. Protesters occupied local government offices in half of Ukraine’s 24 regions. Riot police units in at least three regions had switched sides, saying they would no longer answer orders from Yanukovych. The self-proclaimed People’s Rada (council) of Kiev was formed on 27 January 2014 from the opposition’s self-government committee. The improvised council, formed from members of opposition parties and “civil society representatives,” is determined to function until “legitimate” senior Kiev administration officials are elected.

The opposition appeared divided. Members of the Fatherland party were not willing to compromise and demand the president step down. Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), however, had a more flexible position. But efforts get the people to make concessions haven't always been successful. Klitschko managed to convince some radical protesters to stop throwing Molotov cocktails at the police. But he couldn't prevent the occupation of the Justice Ministry and other buildings.

Alexander Moisseyenko, a 35-year-old IT-specialist from Odessa, served as the speaker of the "Spilna Sprava," or common cause, movement. Spilna Sprava was a driving force at the beginning of the protests. "We have registered the very first demonstrations when President Yanukovych announced that he won't sign the association agreement with the EU," said Moisseyenko. Several hundred people in Kyiv are part of the movement. "We are also in the Hrushevskyi Street," where demonstrators faced police and some people were killed during street battles. Spilna Sprava gained attention in late January 2014 by occupying government ministry buildings. UDAR leader Klitschko tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent this as he didn't want to provoke the government. The right-wing Svoboda, or freedom, party drove Spilna Sprava out of the Ministry of Agriculture, showing how the opposition groups may share a common goal but do not always agree on how to reach it.

Amnesty

The law granting amnesty to the participants of the mass protests in Ukraine came into force 02 February 2014. The government and the opposition have agreed that the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovnaya Rada, would announce an amnesty if administration buildings and roads were unblocked by the rioters. The protesters have 15 days to meet the demands. The amnesty does not affect those who committed major offences such as murder or kidnapping.

Ukraine's attorney general said 14 February 2014 that all 234 protesters who were arrested in anti-government unrest rocking the country had been released - as demanded by the opposition - but charges against them remained. "234 people were arrested between December 26 and February 2. None of them are in custody any more," said Viktor Pshonka, adding that charges against them would be dropped if buildings currently occupied by demonstrators were evacuated.

The Right Sector movement, the radical right wing of the protest groups continuing demonstrations in central Kiev, said it was ready to unblock Hrushevsky Street following the release of activists arrested earlier, but warned that it reserved the right to act at its own discretion in the future unless all criminal proceedings against activists were closed.

The prisoners who were freed still have criminal cases open against each of them, none of the criminal cases have been closed. On the other hand, not a single criminal case has been opened against, for example, the riot police who had used excessive force prior to 18 February and even killed people.

Early Elections

The main goal of the protesters was to topple the government and remove the president. The opposition said time and time again that they would stop short of nothing but new elections. Recent polls saw roughly 50% of the country supporting the opposition and 42% supporting Yanukovich. And his ratings have gone a little bit up recently. The question is if he went to a second round, he’ll probably lose to the opposition, and therefore was going to try to avoid having elections until schedule which is February 2015, if he can get away with them.

Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Rybak suggested on 01 February 2014 that President Viktor Yanukovych may dissolve the parliament. "If the parliament continues to behave this way and announce recesses all the time, and if the parliament doesn't pass legislation necessary for the state and for our voters… The president said: 'I will have to appeal to the people of Ukraine that we don't need such a parliament, and I will hold consultations with the faction leaders and the parliament leadership and will sign a law on dissolving the parliament".

The Ukrainian opposition was ready to form a new government and to take full responsibility for the situation in the country, leader of the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) opposition party Arseny Yatsenyuk told local broadcaster “Channel 5” on 02 February 2014. However Yatsenyuk ruled out the possibility of creating the new cabinet together with the pro-government Party of Regions. The opposition leader stressed that the primary reforms of the new government will include the demonopolization of economy, energy, tax, bank, legal and law enforcement reforms. He added that Ukraine would require loans from the IMF, the EU and the US to help finance the new government.

Yanukovych said he would be back to work 03 February 2014, even as new protests against him filled the streets of Kyiv. About 30,000 anti-government demonstrators seeking his ouster protested 02 February 2014 in Kyiv's barricaded Independence Square. It was one of the largest gatherings in two months of demonstrations against the Yanukovych government.

President Viktor Yanukovich was ready for early presidential elections if talks with the opposition yield no results, the president's representative in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), Yury Miroshnichenko, told ICTV channel on 04 February 2014. "The president said that ‘if we the politicians are not be able to find a solution …. then the only democratic way to resolve this situation is early elections,’” Miroshnichenko said. There was no forceful action being considered to end the crisis, nor was declaring a state of emergency being considered, he added.

The demand to hold early elections in Ukraine was aimed at forcing Ukraine to choose Europe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said 20 February 2014. "You probably heard more than once that the capitals of Western European countries have demanded that the people of Ukraine should be given the freedom to choose, and they added that the choice should be in favor of the European Union," Lavrov told a press conference in Baghdad. "Their purpose in the current initiatives is to essentially force this choice is evident to the Ukrainian administration: the demand to hold parliamentary and early presidential elections as soon as possible and to form a coalition government. That is, they are trying to decide everything for them," Lavrov said.

Constitutional Reform

The opposition repeatedly demanded constitutional reform, which would see a parliamentary form of government introduced in Ukraine. The Ukrainian opposition prepared legislation to change the country’s constitution. The proposed constitution would be presented to Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on 04 February 2014. It required only a simple majority, of 226 votes out of 450, to be adopted.

Amendments to the 1996 constitution were adopted during the 2004 "Orange Revolution" and took effect in January 2006, shifting significant powers from the president to the prime minister and Rada. In a closed-door ruling lacking transparency, the Constitutional Court (including many recently appointed judges) on 01 October 2010 announced that the 2004 amendments were unconstitutional because procedures used to adopt them violated the constitution. The court reinstated the 1996 constitution, which granted greater powers to the presidency.

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine may adopt changes to the Constitution in 2014 during the two sessions of the parliament if there are 300 votes, Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodymyr Rybak told the Inter television channel. "A special commission may be established the next plenary week with the opening of the fourth session. On a pro rata basis, it should be set up of representatives of all factions ... During 2014, if desired, MPs may consider amendments to the Constitution," the speaker predicted.

Oleksandr Yefremov, leader of the Party of Regions faction of the Ukrainian parliament, said 06 February 2014 that members of his faction will take part in the work on changes to the Ukrainian Constitution and that a new edition of the Constitution could be adopted in September 2014 at the earliest. Yefremov said every faction has given its proposals to the working group, which will be working on changes to the Constitution. He said the faction is ready to uphold the proposal that the commission be headed by a member of the opposition. "If the opposition agrees, we are ready to support a member of the opposition for the post of commission head. A deputy head will be appointed from us, and the commission will be formed on the basis of quota representation," the faction leader said.

Ex-speaker of the Parliament, head of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, independent Deputy, Volodymyr Lytvyn, initiated an emergency session of the Parliament on 20 February 2014. According to Volodymyr Lytvyn, "If a return to the Constitution of 2004 calms the people, this decision must be taken. One cannot remain silent when the country is burning. Otherwise, all of us will be prodded with hay-forks in spite of our political affiliation".



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Page last modified: 01-03-2014 17:04:12 ZULU