Tag Archives: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych

Ukrainian Forces Seize 100,000 Ballots Pre-Marked “Yes” For Separatist Referendum

The situation in Ukraine has been all over the place lately, with conflicting reports constantly coming from both sides, so I don’t blame you if you haven’t been keeping up with it.

There have been a few recent developments, however, that are worth noting. Since the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russia’s subsequent annexation of the Crimean peninsula, there has been significant unrest in Ukraine’s eastern cities, specifically in the coal-mining region of Donetsk.

A number of pro-Russian separatist groups have emerged in eastern Ukraine since all the tension began. Though they typically wear uniforms that bear no particular flag and claim to be Ukrainian, many people believe that a significant portion of these groups are actually covert Russian forces.

Separatist forces seize Donetsk’s main administrative building on April 7th (Photo: AFP)

The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) is the most organized and most visible of these groups. They recently announced that they would be holding a referendum in the Donetsk region and the neighboring Luhansk region on May 11th.

Originally, the referendum was to be a vote on whether or not to legitimize the new Ukrainian government. Then, members of the DPR said people would be asked whether they wanted to leave Ukraine and join Russia, “Crimea-style”.

Click to enlarge

As of May 8 however, the referendum simply asks, “Do you support the act of state self-reliance of the Donetsk People’s Republic?”. DPR representatives have said that a follow-up referendum will be held on the 18th to decide on whether or not to join Russia.

The Ukrainian government and the international community have denounced the referendum (as well as the DPR’s self-proclaimed state) to be illegitimate and illegal.

However, separatist forces are in control of a number of towns and cities in the region, and have commandeered 80 local schools to hold the votes (the feature image for this story was taken at one of these schools), so local governments have been forced to comply.

Separatist forces patrol the streets of Donetsk waving both a Russian flag and one that reads, “People’s volunteer corps of Donetsk” (Photo: AFP)

Then earlier today, the Kiev Post reported that Ukrainian anti-terror forces in Slaviansk had captured a small group of armed separatists who had 100,000 ballots for tomorrow’s referendum that were pre-marked “yes”. The Kiev Post called the group “Kremlin-backed rebels”, but the publication is known to be supportive of the new government in Kiev so it’s possible that their report may be a bit sensationalized.

Check out the original report from the Kiev Post here. Read more from the BBC about the upcoming referendum here.

Feature image courtesy of AFP

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Ukrainian Government Signs Deal With Opposition, Looking to End Violence

Earlier this morning (2/21/2014), Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders signed a deal agreeing to an early presidential poll by the end of this year.

The deal also creates a national unity government, reforms the elections process and makes constitutional changes limiting the power of the president.

President Yanukovych shakes hands with opposition leader Vitali Klitschko (Photo: The Guardian)
President Yanukovych shakes hands with opposition leader Vitali Klitschko (Photo: The Guardian)

Here are the specifics of the deal, via BBC News:

  • The 2004 constitution will be restored within 48 hours, and a national unity government will be formed within 10 days
  • Constitutional reform balancing the powers of president, government and parliament will be started immediately and completed by September
  • A presidential election will be held after the new constitution is adopted but no later than December 2014 and new electoral laws will be passed
  • An investigation into recent acts of violence will be conducted under joint monitoring from the authorities, the opposition and the Council of Europe
  • The authorities will not impose a state of emergency and both the authorities and the opposition will refrain from the use of violence
  • Illegal weapons will be handed over to interior ministry bodies

The deal comes after by far the bloodiest day of demonstrations on Thursday. The health ministry reported 77 dead and another 577 injured, but activists suggest that these numbers are probably much higher.

Despite the agreement, a few isolated skirmishes still broke out this morning. Many of the more extreme factions of the opposition still want President Yanukovych’s resignation.

Anti-government protestors (Photo: The Guardian)
Anti-government protestors (Photo: The Guardian)

Time will tell if these this agreement has done enough to begin the Ukraine’s healing process.

Read the full story from BBC News here.

Feature photo courtesy of ABC News.

Ukrainian Unrest In One Shocking Picture. Oh Ya And 1,500 Stolen Guns

This is Independence Square in the center of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine…before and after the clashes that broke out yesterday. Click the image to enlarge.

Also, according to Ukrainian Security Service head, Aleksandr Yakimenko,

“over the last day more than 1,500 firearms and 100,000 rounds of ammunition have come into the hands of criminals.”

Yakimenko also mentioned,

“the escalation of violence and a massive use of firearms by the extremist groups. In many parts of the country, public authorities, military installations and depots with munitions are being seized. Court buildings are burning, the vandals are destroying private property and killing peaceful civilians.”

Yakimenko cited all of these factors as he announced that the government would be taking counter-terrorism measures against the rioters.

For more on these announcements, read the full story from RT here.

For more on the conflict, check out this Higher Learning story from yesterday: 9 Dead and Dozens Injured As Violence Reignites in Ukraine.

Image posted by reddit user nasdaf.

9 Dead and Dozens Injured As Violence Reignites In Ukraine

About two weeks ago (2/5/14), The Higher Learning reported on how Ukrainian Customs was blocking shipments of aid to the protestors camped out in the country’s capital, Kiev.

The protestors have been camping out and clashing regularly with law enforcement since November, when Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych scrapped an agreement for E.U. association in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Viktor Yanukovych (Photo: The Guardian)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (Photo: The Guardian)

The violence subsided temporarily at the end of last month, after opposition leaders called for peace while they attempted to negotiate a resolution with the government. Their demands included,

“the formation of a new government led by one of the leaders of the opposition, as well as sweeping reforms that would put Ukraine back on a path toward integration with the E.U.”

Earlier today (2/18/14) however, it became clear that the negotiations had failed and the violence resumed. Massive columns of protestors marched from their barricaded encampment in the center of the city and surrounded the nearby parliament building, where the Ukrainian parliament was in session.

Protestors clash with police (Photo: RiaNovosti)
Protestors clash with police (Photo: RiaNovosti)

Police responded by using stun grenades and rubber bullets on the crowd, which also reportedly set fire to the headquarters of president Viktor Yanukovych’s ruling party. Some protestors even launched Molotov cocktails at the police.

The clashes left 9 dead any dozens more injured.

Here’s a few more pictures from the clashes. Click an image to enlarge.

Read the full story from Time here.

Follow the twitter account @EuromaidanPR for live updates on the situation in Kiev.