Update 2:35 p.m. Eastern — Julia Tymoshenko addresses crowd in Kiev:

Julia Tymoshenko addresses crowd 2-22-2014

The President of Ukraine has fled Kiev but it is unclear if he has resigned. (UPDATE: Refuses to resign, calls protests a facsist coup d’etat.)

Kiev is in the hands of the opposition, and government security forces have vowed to stay neutral, reports Reuters:

Ukraine security chiefs signal allegiance to protesters

The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police’s Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people.

They represented the paratroop unit of the military, the Berkut anti-riot police, Alfa special operations unit and military intelligence. The Interior Ministry had already signalled its allegiance to anti-government protests under a new minister from the ranks of the opposition.

The former Prime Minister and key opposition leader (background here) is to be freed from prison, via Sky News:

Jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is set for release as part of political decisions taken at an emergency session of parliament in Kiev.

Initial reports claimed she had already been freed, but these were later clarified by aide Natasha Lysova who said the parliamentary decision meant she must be freed immediately.

AFP news agency, quoting opposition MP Mykola Katerynchuk, reported President Viktor Yanukovich had promised to resign over the conflict.

In an ominous sign, reflecting that there are anti-Semitic elements in the opposition (as we previously noted), the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine has urged Jews to flee, as reported by Haaretz:

Ukraine’s chief rabbi tells Kiev’s Jews to flee city

Ukraine’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, called on Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country if possible, fearing that the city’s Jews will be victimized in the chaos, Israeli daily Maariv reported Friday.

“I told my congregation to leave the city center or the city all together and if possible the country too,” Rabbi Azman told Maariv. “I don’t want to tempt fate,” he added, “but there are constant warnings concerning intentions to attack Jewish institutions.”

According to the paper’s report Azman closed the Jewish community’s schools but still holds three daily prayers. He said the Israeli embassy told members of the Jewish community to avoid leaving their homes.

Edward Dolinsky, head of the umbrella organization of Ukraine’s Jews described the situation in Kiev as dire, telling Maariv “We contacted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman requesting he assist us with securing the community.”

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