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Ukraine Tag

There are conflicting reports about an agreement reached between the government and opposition. Reuters reports as of 7:51 8:23 Eastern, Yanukovich announces early Ukraine poll but no deal yet with opposition:
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich announced plans for early elections on Friday in a series of concessions to his pro-European opponents, but it was unclear whether they would accept an EU-mediated deal to end violence that has left dozens dead.... Yanukovich said Ukraine, which emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union in 1991, would revert to a previous constitution under which the president had less authority. "I am also starting the process of a return to the 2004 constitution with a rebalancing of powers towards a parliamentary republic," he said. "I call for the start of procedures for forming a government of national unity." Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose foreign minister is part of a European Union team trying to broker a compromise, said he could not be certain that the "worst-case scenario" could be avoided. "The threats are still there," he told a news conference in Warsaw. The EU mediators said the opposition was seeking last minute changes, but they still expected a deal to be signed on Friday. There were fist fights in parliament as the political tension mounted.
We will update as more in known. Update: Accord Is Signed in Ukraine but Doubts Are Strong:
The embattled president of Ukraine and leaders of the opposition signed a political deal on Friday aimed at ending a spiral of lethal violence with early elections and a reduction in presidential powers, but Russia declined to endorse the accord, and many protesters said nothing short of the president’s resignation would get them off the street.... The deal reached Friday instead leaves Mr.Yanukovych in power until for at least the end of the year. It calls for early presidential elections in December, a swift return to a constitution of 2004 that sharply limited the president’s powers and the establishment within 10 days of a “government of national trust.”
You can follow the events at the live feeds below.

A Ukrainian skier has dropped out of the Sochi Winter Olympics as an act of solidarity with protesters in Ukraine, amid escalated violence in Kiev this week. From the Associated Press via ABC News: A Ukrainian skier has withdrawn from the Olympics in response to the deaths...

The truce announced yesterday didn't last long.  CNN reports:
A shaky truce crumbled in Kiev Thursday morning, when gunfire erupted at the city's Maidan, or Independence Square, which has been ground zero for anti-government protesters. At least 20 protesters died, said Oleg Musiy, head of the protesters' medical service. A police officer also was killed, the interior ministry said. It's unclear what prompted the gunfire. But CNN crews at the scene reported that as security forces were moving away from the area, a group of protesters pursued them, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. "Protesters broke the truce," said a statement from President Viktor Yanukovych's office."The opposition used the negotiation period to buy time, to mobilize and get weapons to protesters." When the bullets flew, several demonstrators fell to the ground.
Live feeds and other video footage show clashes between protesters and police forces and footage of the scenes on the ground.

President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych said late Wednesday in a statement on his website that he and opposition leaders had agreed to a truce and will start negotiations in an effort to try and stabilize the situation in the country amid recent unrest. From NBC News:
The president of Ukraine and the leader of the anti-government movement have agreed to a “truce” and “negotiations” aimed at bringing an end to the violence that has torn the country apart. In a statement on his official website, President Viktor Yanukovych said his government and the opposition have agreed to “negotiations aimed at cessation of bloodshed and stabilization of the situation in the country for the sake of civil peace.” Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said in a statement on his website that both sides reached an agreement on the negotiations and that the next round of talks will be held tomorrow (Thursday). The website quoted Klitschko as saying, "We have received assurances from Yanukovych that there would be no assault on Maidan (Independence Square). Literally, it means a truce. Today a key goal is to stop the bloodshed that authorities have provoked and unleashed. Now we will see how Yanukovych will stick to his word after promised sanctions from the West." The announcements — the first significant sign of progress since the anti-government protests began nearly three months ago — came just one day after brutal clashes between demonstrators and police left at least 26 people dead and nearly 250 injured.
Earlier Wednesday, President Obama had weighed in on the situation in Ukraine, urging for an end to the violence and warning all sides that “there will be consequences if people step over the line.”

The United States is not Ukraine, so, I hope, we don't find ourselves living in interesting times. 1.  Somewhat educated young people with no opportunities are a revolutionary class.  Between 1990 and 2006, as Ukraine's population declined, the number of students entering colleges shot up an unbelievable 60%.  According to another source, " The number of students enrolled in Ukrainian universities grew from 1.5 million in 2001, to 2.5 million in 2009-2011."  Towards the end of this period the student population consisted primarily of those born in the 1990's when fertility went through the floor. At the same time, the quality of education continued to decline.  Ukrainian universities are not highly ranked, and that grades and diplomas are bought and sold is an open secret.  In 2006, 32% of recent college graduates were unemployed.  Overall youth unemployment (ages 15-24) is 18.6%.  That the students and young people in general and are very active in protests is not surprising, but it helps to know their circumstances. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"] (Ever wonder why Ukrainian women are so eager to bare their chests for the joy of media outlets across the world? Femen protest against sexual harassment in universities.)[/caption]

Violence again erupted in Ukraine on Tuesday. From the NY Times:
Mayhem gripped the center of the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday evening as riot police officers tried to drive two armored personnel carriers through stone-reinforced barriers in Independence Square, the focal point of more than two months of protests against President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Pelted by rocks and fireworks, the vehicles became stuck in the massive barricades outside the Khreschatyk Hotel and burst into flames, apparently trapping the security officers inside, prompting desperate rescue efforts from their colleagues.

In the course of wild day of parries and thrusts by the protesters and the police, the authorities in Kiev reported nine people killed, including two police officers. It was the bloodiest day of violence since President Yanukovych spurned a trade deal with Europe in November and set of protests that began peacefully but have since involved occasional spasms of deadly violence.

Live feeds and other video footage show clashes between protesters and police forces and footage of the scenes on the ground.

An early morning report from Reuters on Thursday indicated that Ukraine’s parliament has agreed to try and work on a joint bill on constitutional amendments. The parties in Ukraine's deadlocked parliament agreed on Thursday to try to draft a joint bill on constitutional amendments that could...

After an announcement just last week that he'd be taking an indefinite sick leave, the President of Ukraine returned on Monday, as the political crisis continues there. From Reuters:
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich returned to work on Monday after four days of sick leave, issuing a warning about rising "radicalism" after more than two months of unrest on the streets but giving no word on a new prime minister. Yanukovich, caught in a tug of war between Russia and the West, is seeking a way out of a sometimes violent confrontation with protesters who have occupied city streets and public buildings following his decision in November to spurn a trade deal with the EU and accept financial aid from Moscow. As he returned to work, looking in fair health, a day before a new session of parliament, the political opposition took heart from fresh expressions of support from Western governments and pressed for more concessions to end protests. However, the European Union, whose foreign policy chief is due in Kiev late on Tuesday, played down suggestions it was working with the United States on a large-scale aid package aimed at nursing the economy through a political transition.
It remains an uncertain situation upon Yanukovich's return.

The press office of Viktor Yanukovych announced Thursday that the President of Ukraine would take a sick leave for an indefinite period of time, prompting uncertainty amid continuing tensions in Ukraine. From the Wall Street Journal:
Ukraine's president and his opponents accused one another of sabotaging efforts to end the political crisis Thursday, as an unexpected presidential sick leave further damped hopes for compromise. President Viktor Yanukovych's absence was quickly denounced by his opponents as a case of executive malingering in a country where politicians have in the past delayed one another in parliament by throwing eggs, padlocking the doors and body-blocking the rostrum. The Ukrainian president's office issued a statement saying Mr. Yanukovych, 63, is taking time off from work because of a fever and respiratory illness. The statement did not indicate when he would return to work.
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government resigned on Tuesday, in an attempt to appease protesters.  Parliament also voted to repeal or modify many of the anti-protest laws that had been passed in mid-January and sparked escalating violence. But Yanukovych must sign the repeal from Parliament and it is not known whether or not that would occur while he is on sick leave, according to the Associated Press. Just after the announcement of his sick leave, the president of Ukraine defended his handling of the ongoing crisis there. From CNN:

The prime minister of Ukraine resigned on Tuesday in an attempt to help ease tensions after two months of protests and recent violent clashes there. From CNN:
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government Tuesday, amid a political crisis fired by violent protests on the country's streets. Azarov and his Cabinet will continue in their roles until a new government is formed, a notice on the presidential website said. Yanukovych's announcement comes only hours after Azarov submitted his resignation and as the national parliament meets in a special session aimed at ending the crisis.
With the resignation of the prime minister also means the resignation of his entire cabinet, in accordance with the Ukrainian Constitution, reported UPI.

Several deaths have been reported after ongoing clashes between protesters and police continued in the capital of Ukraine.  The number of deaths seems to differ among various outlets and the circumstances around some of the deaths appear to remain under investigation. From CNN:
At least four people have been shot dead and hundreds injured as demonstrators clash with police over new laws limiting the right to protest in Ukraine, the head of the protest movement's volunteer medical service, Oleg Musiy, told CNN on Wednesday. Ukraine's Interior Ministry earlier said it was investigating a death, the circumstances of which are not clear. Local media reports suggest the man may have fallen from a statue or monument. In a statement Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf condemned the growing violence, particularly against journalists and peaceful protesters. "Increased tensions in Ukraine are a direct consequence of the Ukrainian government's failure to engage in real dialogue and the passage of anti-democratic legislation on January 16," Harf said. "We urge the Government of Ukraine to take steps that represent a better way forward for Ukraine, including repeal of the anti-democratic legislation and beginning a national dialogue with the political opposition."
The scenes described on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine depict the continuing conflict as police tried to take back control of some of those streets. From the Wall Street Journal:
On the streets of Kiev, police fired rubber bullets and twice smashed through protesters' front lines, lashing out with batons as defenders scattered. Demonstrators fought back with fireworks and, after police retreated, set fire to piles of tires, sending plumes of black smoke into the air.

Demonstrations in Kiev, Ukraine erupted into violent clashes between protesters and police on Sunday. From Reuters:
Protesters clashed with riot police in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday after tough anti-protest legislation, which the political opposition says paves the way for a police state, was rushed through parliament last week. A group of young masked demonstrators attacked a cordon of police with sticks and tried to overturn a bus blocking their way to the parliament building after opposition politicians called on people to disregard the new legislation. Despite appeals from opposition leaders not to resort to violence, and a personal intervention from boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, protesters continued to throw smoke bombs and hurl fireworks and other objects at police. The police appeared to show restraint during that fracas. The interior ministry said 30 police were hurt, including more than 10 admitted to hospital and four in serious condition.
Police reportedly later tried to disperse the protesters using water cannon and tear gas, according to AFP. Protests have continued in Ukraine over the last two months, though have not always stayed in the news headlines. As mentioned above, sparking the most recent tensions are a series of new laws that were recently passed there and place restrictions on certain protest activity.

Update 12-11-2013 a.m. The police action failed to dislodge the protest encampment, and may have backfired as more people are moving to Independence Square to join the protesters. You can still file live coverage at the video and Twitter embeds below. https://twitter.com/DEShellenberger/status/410767401555226625 https://twitter.com/herszenhorn/status/410769635492257792 --------------------------------- Is tonight the night Ukrainian police dismantle the protest camps in Independence Square in Kiev? The protesters are trying to keep Ukraine from falling back under de facto Russian control. For more background, see out prior posts. Several live feeds fro different locations are embedded below.

We previously have highlighted the Ukrainian protest movement seeking to prevent Ukraine from falling back under Russian domination: The protests continue, but as of this writing it appears that police are moving in, although it's unclear if it's an attempt to evict the protesters completely. LIVE VIDEO and Twitter stream at bottom of post. Kyiv Post has live reporting updates. Here is video of yesterday's protest at Independence Square in Kiev:

Protests in Ukraine continued on Sunday, as hundreds of thousands reportedly gathered in the center of the capital of Kiev.  One group of protesters pulled down a statue of Vladimir Lenin. From the LA Times:
Protesters toppled a monument to Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin on Sunday during the biggest march and rally in central Kiev since President Viktor Yanukovich galvanized his opposition by turning down a trade deal with the European Union. The Ukrainian protesters blocked and barricaded government offices and said they were giving Yanukovich 48 hours to disband his government before they would march on his country residence near Kiev. In turning down the trade deal with the EU, Yanukovich was effectively asserting that Russia remained Ukraine's key trade partner. The country is politically and geographically divided, to some extent, between those who favor ties to Russia and those who would like to see Ukraine more aligned with Western Europe. That gave the toppling of the Lenin statue particular significance — despite the fact that most Lenin statues in Russia itself were torn down during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Statues of the Soviet leader were once ubiquitous throughout the East bloc. No police officers could be seen anywhere in the vicinity of Taras Shevchenko boulevard where the granite and marble monument was brought down by a group of young protesters. “It is amazing how the authorities allowed Lenin to go down!” said Sergei Andriyenko, a 51-year-old Kiev businessman who applauded the action. “Where were the police, where were the communists who were always protecting him?”

Authorities in Ukraine issued further warnings to protesters Thursday, coupled with sharp criticism from the prime minister, amidst continuing protests there that initially triggered a brutal crackdown and sparked broader anti-government sentiment. From Reuters:
Ukrainian police on Thursday warned pro-Europe protesters they faced a "harsh" crackdown if they did not end their occupation of public offices in Kiev, while President Viktor Yanukovich's prime minister denounced them as "Nazis and criminals". The authorities issued the tough warnings as foreign ministers held a European security conference in a city seething with unrest over the Ukrainian government's U-turn away from Europe back towards Russia. [...] A court ordered the protesters on Thursday to quit the Kiev mayor's office, where they have set up an operational hub, and halt their four-day blockade of government buildings. In perhaps the strongest signal yet that the authorities are contemplating action to reclaim the streets, the head of the Kiev police, Valery Mazan, said: "We do not want to use force. But if the law is broken, we will act decisively, harshly. "We will not try to talk people round. We have the means and capability laid down by the law," he added.

Protests in Ukraine continued on Wednesday as protesters persisted in their efforts to block access to public buildings after several days of unrest in Kiev. From the NY Times:
The demonstrators who have laid siege to public buildings in this rattled capital expanded their protest overnight, blockading the central bank on Wednesday and setting up tents and lighting bonfires on the sidewalk outside. Protest leaders had vowed to surround additional government buildings after the Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday defeated a measure calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government.

The failure of the no-confidence vote pushed the battle for the future of Ukraine back onto the streets, where protests began over the weekend. Demonstrators allied with opposition leaders said they would not relent until they succeed in removing the government, including President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

But the protesters’ overnight goal of blockading the presidential administration building had not been accomplished by Wednesday morning. They did advance their sphere of control about 500 yards up a side street leading to Independence Square, which they have occupied, and erected a barricade near one entrance to the administration building.