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Ukrainian crisis: February 18

LB.ua chronicles the latest events in Ukraine in English for foreign readers.

Ukrainian crisis: February 18
'Berkut' riot police and 'titushki' vs Euromaidan protesters in Kyiv
Фото: Макс Левин

Read previous news on the topic:

Ukrainian crisis: February 14

Ukrainian crisis: February 17

On Jan. 16 the Verkhovna Rada adopted more than a dozen of controversial amendments to a law 'On the Judicial System and Status of Judges' and the procedural laws regarding additional measures to protect the safety of citizens. Most opposition politicians, international organizations and European countries consider these laws a violation of basic constitutional rights of 45 million citizens of Ukraine.

On Jan. 19, clashes broke out between Euromaidan protesters and police on Hrushevskoho Street in the centre of Kyiv, after radical protesters decided to break through the police cordon in the direction of the Government House and the Verkhovna Rada. At least six people were killed during two weeks of unprecedented politically-linked violence in Kyiv.

Now opposition leaders - Arseniy Yatsenyuk ('Batkivshchyna'), Vitali Klitschko ('UDAR') and Oleg Tyagnibok ('Svoboda') - are trying to put an end to the political crisis in Ukraine.

On Jan. 24 Euromaidan supporters started seizing buildings of regional state administration all over Ukraine. Some attempts were successful.

On Jan. 25 President Viktor Yanukovich offered the opposition several top government posts. Thus, Yanukovich offered Arseny Yatseniyuk the post of prime minister to replace Nykolai Azarov, whose government would be expected to resign. Vitali Klitschko, a former international boxing champion, would be appointed deputy prime minister responsible for humanitarian issues. But opposition leaders, supported by thousands of protesters massing in Kyiv's city centre, continued to press for further concessions, including early elections and the repeal of an anti-protest law.

On Jan. 28 Ukrainian Prime Minister Nykolai Azarov resigned, and a series of sweeping anti-protest laws, adopted hastily in response to increasingly violent clashes between protesters and police, were abolished by parliament.

On Jan. 29 the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, approved a law that would grant an amnesty to arrested protesters, but depended on the demonstrators vacating all occupied government buildings. After 12 hours of negotiations the amnesty was agreed by 232 votes from the Regions Party members and the Communist Party amid applause from the 'regionals' and angry shouts 'Shame!' from the opposition.

Now the EU is considering sanctions against Ukraine. In the mean time, former Ukrainian Interior Minister and head of the public organization 'Ukrainian Third Republic' Yuriy Lutsenko said there is no point in negotiating between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovich, and called on the Ukrainians to join the ranks of Euromaidan self-defence units.

Individual MP Pyotr Poroshenko, in his turn, announced the establishment of an international commission to investigate crimes of the Ukrainian authorities against Euromaidan protesters.

The opposition, buoyed by Western expressions of support, pressed on Feb. 4, in parliament for a return to a previous constitution of 2004, which would mean Yanukovich losing some of the key powers he has accumulated since being elected in 2010. These include appointing the prime minister and entire government as well as regional governors. The opposition also wants an unconditional amnesty for protesters detained in the unrest to be broadened into an unconditional pardon for all those being held by police.

So far the authorities and the opposition haven't managed to reach a compromise on a return to the constitution of 2004. Some activists still remain in custody, and Euromaidan protesters still occupy government building in Kyiv.

On Feb. 16 the Interior Ministry confirmed protesters have met all the conditions necessary to bring the amnesty law into effect. A conditional amnesty law that exempts detained protesters from criminal charges has been implemented on Feb. 17.

00:12. Vinnitsa City Court freed from criminal responsibility 19-year-old student Tsebrika Victor, who was accused of involvement in the riots, capturing the building of Vinnytsia Regional State Administration and resisting police officers. During the investigation the young man was expelled from technical training college.

00:28. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she didn't consider the imposition of sanctions against Ukrainian officials as a mandatory measure for resolving the crisis in Ukraine. She also called amnesty of Euromaidan activists a positive step.

00:38. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk and leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko before their departure from Berlin talked to AutoMaidan leader Dmitry Bulatov, who had to run to Germany because of the situation in Ukraine. In the end of January he was kidnapped and tortured by unidentified men (picture).

According to the press service of 'Batkivschyna', Bulatov thanked the opposition leaders for care.

00:58. One of Euromaidan activists said he was stabbed in the lung, when he moved to reconnoiter the situation behind barricades on the side of security forces on Hrushevskoho Street, stated AutoMaidan activist Dmitry Karp.

It remains unknown, who attacked the activist, who know remains in hospital.

08:08. Euromaidan activists and opposition supporters are gathering in the centre of Kyiv to participate in so called 'peaceful offensive' on the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, building to demand a return to the constitution of 2004 in order to end the political and economical crisis in the country.

08:36. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in an article for the 'Kommersant. Ukraine' said that President Viktor Yanukovich's actions led to the deepest political crisis in Ukraine since its independence. She also noted that it was important to focus on solving urgent problems.

08:53. Catherine Ashton says believes that the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union is not a threat to Russia's interests.

08:54. Participants of the 'peaceful offensive on the Verkhovna Rada' have been met by two water cannons and two APCs on Hrushevskoho Street.

09:30. The opposition is trying to persuade Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Rybak to register changes to the Constitution, so far to no avail, wrote MP Lesia Orobets on her Facebook page.

09:38. The Verkhovna Rada's building has been surrounded by police buses and barbed wire (pictures).

09:49. The opposition has blocked the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada.

09:53. Many reputable deputies from the ruling Party of Regions, including Boris Kolesnikov, Nestor Shufrich, Yefim Zvyagilskiy, Grigoriy Smityuh, Viktor Bondar, criticized the current constitution and advocated the need for a radical revision of redistribution of power it provides.

It happened this morning at a meeting of the Party of Regions. LB.ua learned about this from its own source in the party.

10:22. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk does not exclude that if the Ukrainian government is headed by the pro-Russian Prime Minister, another wave of riots may appear.

10:26. Participants of the 'peaceful offensive' on the Verkhovna Rada's building have managed to break through one of the police cordons at the intersection of Hrushevskoho Street and Krepostnoy lane (pictures).

Euromaidan activists moving trucks aside form Hrushevskoho Street

Activists storming barricade near the House of officers

10:31. The Party of Regions MP Vladimir Oleynik excludes forceful unlocking of the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada, blocked by the opposition.

'We've generally refused to use the force variant. They (opposition - ed.) block it - well, let them block it', he said.

10:39. Opposition activists have lit tires on Hrushevskoho Street neat the police cordon.

10:42. 'The Party of Regions doesn't control the situation in Ukraine, and there is urgent need to do something', stated at a meeting of the Party of Regions one of its prominent members Yan Tabachnik, reports LB.ua citing its own sources.

Another 'regional' MP - Nestor Shufrich - called for adoption of a new constitution, to 'get at least Prime Minister's post in 2015'.

10:43. Police attacked a photojournalist of the radio 'Voice of the Capital' Eugeniy Kotenko. He was brutally beaten. Law enforcers were wearing uniform with no markings.

10:48. Clashes between protesters and law enforces have broke at the corner of Instytutska and Shelkovichna Streets. Protesters and police are throwing rubble and stun grenades at each other (pictures).

10:53. 'The opposition had blocked the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada, because Parliament Speaker Vladimir Rybak doesn't want to register a draft resolution of the opposition regarding clarification of the provisions of the Constitutional Court on political reform', told journalists 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk on the sidelines of parliament.

11:03. Amending the constitution would allow to lower the intensity of the election race, stated the Regions Party MP Nestor Shufrich in an exclusive commentary to LB.ua.

11:05. Parliamentary leadership has instructed to register all draft resolutions concerning amendments to the constitution, wrote individual MP Yuriy Derevyanko on Facebook.

11:13. Police uses traumatic weapons and stun grenades against demonstrators in the government quarter on Shelkovichna Street in Kyiv, told LB.ua AutoMaidan activist who made a detour around the centre of the capital.

11:18. Former Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski predicts that the political crisis in Ukraine will last until the next presidential election that are to be held in early 2015, because of the unwillingness of President Viktor Yanukovich to find compromise with the opposition.

11:22. Police officers have wounded at least 10 protesters near the Verkhovna Rada, reports LB.ua correspondent from the scene.

Most of the wounds are to the head. Two women were injured by rubber bullets. In addition, it was reported that one of the protesters lost his left hand, when a grenade hit his hand. He was evacuated from the scene by another activists.

11:30. The Party of Regions MPs have left the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada. The opposition continues blocking the rostrum of parliament.

11:34. Activists keep coming to Hrushevskoho Street, where protesters lit tires about an hour ago. Most of them are believed to be activists of the 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement.

11:45. Leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko at a briefing in parliament has called on President Viktor Yanukovych to call early parliamentary and presidential elections.

11:55. The Verkhovna Rada has registered a resolution on the return to the constitution of 2004, reported the 'UDAR' faction.

11:56. 'The Basic Law should be changed for the country, not for the best employment of individual leaders, as the opposition wants. Constitution is not a report card of employment at the company', said MP Borys Kolesnikov in a commentary to LB.ua.

12:00. Reuters photojournalist Gleb Garanich was wounded by a stun grenade that hit his chest during violent clashes at the intersection of Shelkovichna and Instytutska Streets.

12:06. Two KAMAZ trucks are burning on Shelkovichna Street, not far from the Verkhorna Rada's building. Also, there is a house burning on Institutska Street (pictures).

12:06. Euromaidan protesters drove 'titushki' (AntiMaidan activists, hired by the authorities) out of Mariinsky park near Arsenalna metro station (pictures).

12:20. The opposition leaders have given the authorities time until 12.30 in order to submit for consideration by the Verkhovna Rada a bill on return to the constitution of 2004.

12:27. Strengthened brigades of 'Berkut' riot police are coming to Shelkovichna Street at the intersection with Instytutska Street from Lipskaya Street.

12:30. 'Berkut' and 'titushki' recaptured the main office of the Party of Regions from opposition activists.

The main office of the Party of Regions burning

12:43. The protesters have burned tent of the supporters of the Party of Regions in Mariinsky park. Clashes between Euromaidan activists and law enforcers continue.

12:43. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Rybak felt sick in the Verkhovna Rada: according to preliminary information, he had a hypertensive crisis. Ambulance came there to assist him.

12:54. Guards of the main office of the Party of Regions, which was first captured by Euromaidan activists, and then recaptured by 'Berkut' riot police have beaten photojournalist Maxim Trebukhov. The journalist himself informed LB.ua of this.

Another photojournalist, who tried to defend Trebukhov from the guards, suffered as well - they broke his camera.

12:55. Euromaidan activists have captured the House of officers, located at Hrushevskoho Street 30/1. The injured are being treated there.

13:04. About 100 Euromaidan activists have been injured in clashes near the Verkhovna Rada. Ambulances are taking them out of the House of officers.

13:07. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has registered a draft decree number 4154, which suggests to recognize the constitution of 2004 as acting on the proposal of Vice-Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Koshulinskiy, reported the press service of 'Svoboda.

13:10. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction MP Andrey Senchenko reported about the soldiers of internal troops, armed with 'optical rifles' (perhaps he meant sniper rifle with telescopic sight - Ed.), Who came out of the Verkhovna Rada's building and headed down Hrushevskoho Street towards European Square, reported LB.ua correspondent.

13:14. Clashes in Mariinsky park between protesters and law enfrcers have stopped as of 12:40.

13:23. Anti-government protesters are building barricade in Mariinsky Park in front of Krepostnoy lane in Kyiv.

13:25. Euromaidan self-defence fighters have conducted the Party of Regions MP, millionaire Vadim Novinsky through angry crowd of the participants of the 'peaceful offensive'.

13:36. There was a small fight between MPs in the Verkhovna Rada. Irina Farion attacked the Party of Regions MP, who was leaving the session hall along with all his colleagues.

'Batkivschyna' opposition faction Alexander Brygynets reported that the opposition MPs beat some communists.

13:51. Leader of the 'Svoboda' opposition party Oleg Tyagnibok announced a general mobilization. He calls on all concerned to come to Kyiv.

14:03. Clashes between activists and 'Berkut' riot police fighters continue on Instytutska Street in Kyiv. 'Berkut' pushes activists to Clovsky slope (street - ed.).

14:13. The protesters beat back 'Berkut' riot police attack on Instytutska Street at the intersection with Shelkovichna street in Kyiv.

14:19. The Party of Regions MP Yaroslav Suhy, angered with journalist's question, called her 'crippled mare' on the sidelines of the Verkhovna Rada.

The Party of Regions MP Yaroslav Suhy

14:26. Police has detained several opposition activists on Lipska Street, 3 in Kyiv. There's a paddy wagon staying there, and all of the detained are being packed there.

14:39. The Party of Regions supporters and 'titushki' who were staying at Constitution Square near the Verkhovna Rada, have moved directly under the building of the parliament. They practically provide 'human shield' for the central gates of the Verkhovna Rada.

14:40. As a result of clashes between the protesters and the police on Instytutska Street 37 soldiers of internal troops were injured, five of them received gunshots, reported the press service of the Interior Ministry.

14:48. As of 14.30, internal troops and 'Berkut' fighters pushed opposition activists who are Hrushevskoho Street near Mariinsky Park, towards Arsenalna metro station.

14:49. 'Berkut' fighters attacked leader of the 'Svoboda' party Oleg Tyagnibok and a group of the opposition MPS on the corner of Hrushevskoho Street and Krepostnoy lane. They threw Siloviki ammunition objects at the MPS.

15:12. Young people of sporty appearance, who, along with the security forces oppose the protesters on Hrushevskoho Street, wear red and white ribbons on their sleeves. At the same time, ambulances refuse to take wounded demonstrators to hospitals, and takes wounded law enforces instead.

15:15. 'Batkivschyna' opposition faction MP Lesia Orobets has reported that three deaths were recorded in the House of officers (pictures).

'Three corpses in the House of officers. Ours. 7 more are nearly dead. Ambulances are not allowed!', she wrote on 'Facebook'.

15:24. One of the opposition leaders, Alexander Turchinov, after talks with President Viktor Yanukovich has initiated an urgent meeting of the 'Batkivschyna' faction.

15:25. Acting Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara today condemned the actions of opposition activists in Kyiv and called on foreign countries to do the same. He also said he was assured that the radicals pretend to be peaceful activists. His statement was posted on the ministry's website.

15:28. Negotiations of the opposition with Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Rybak have ended with nothing. The opposition failed to secure registration of the bill on the constitution.

15:35. Two men have died during the attack on the office of the Party of Regions on Lipskaya Street. Both of them were office workers. According to preliminary reports, one of them died in fire, and another one - 57-year-old programmer Vladimir Zakharov was beaten to death.

15:37. The Ministry of Defence demands the protesters to vacate the House of officers, reported the press service of the Defence Ministry. In addition, the ministry warned of appropriate response to the capture of the House of officers.

15:42. Gate leading to the courtyard of Kyiv's City Council is burning. According to LB.ua correspondent from the scene, the protesters have set them on fire after 'Berkut' bus passed through it (pictures).

15:54. The protesters erected barricade in front of a house on Institutska, Street, 20/8. They used benches, billboards and pieces of fence to construct it.

15:58. On Hrushevskoho Street police pushed the protesters back to Arsenalna metro station. Law enforcers used batons, stun grenades and tear gas grenades, reported LB.ua correspondent. It's hard to breathe on a square near the station, and thus people, including wounded and covered in blood, had to go underground (pictures).

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