The Ukrainian capital has been gripped by weeks of anti-government protests which have seen violent clashes between rioters and police. Unrest is also spreading beyond Kiev as the opposition and government struggle to end the crisis.
Ukraine’s parliament voted to allocate approximately 1.96 billion hryvinas (approximately 218 million dollars) from the state budget to hold early presidential elections, slated to be held on May 25. The measure received 352 affirmative votes out, far surpassing the 226 required for it to pass. The chairman of the parliamentary budget committee Eugene Heller said the money would be reallocated to the election from other government programs.
The Ukrainian parliament has voted to oust judges from the country’s constitutional court for violating their oath of office by allowing for the constitution to be amended in 2010. The upper house of the Ukrainian parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of the measure. In September 2010, Ukraine's constitutional court increased the powers of recently ousted President Viktor Yanukovych by reversing a reform introduced in 2004, which limited presidential powers in favor of parliament. The court said the move had been unconstitutional, effectively returning the country to its previous status as a presidential republic. Deputies, however, believe the constitutional court violated its oath of office in doing so.
Several hundred armed and masked protesters have gathered at the building of the Kiev city administration, some of them heading to Bessarabskay Square, Itar-tass reported.
Earlier on Saturday, Kiev residents gathered near Lvov square in order to clean up the streets. Their actions were seen by the protesters as an attempt to dismantle the barricades on Independence Square. Several ambulances and police patrols were reported to be stationed in the area.
Ukrainian parliament did not agree on limiting presidential powers during Tuesday’s debate. Anti-government protesters are calling for curbing the president’s powers through constitutional amendments.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday. She had dinner with opposition leaders in the evening and plans to meet with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich is 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. "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 is no forceful action being considered to end the crisis, nor is declaring a state of emergency being considered, he added.
Activists in Kiev installed a toilet painted in gold on a pedestal previously holding Lenin's statue in Kiev's Bessarabskaya Square on Monday.
Activists of the centre-right Batkivshchyna party and people from various student groups behind the move say the gesture is a call to stop "the corrupt and criminalized regime of President Viktor Yanukovich," who protesters claim owns a similar toilet made with real gold.
The statue of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin was toppled by masked anti-government protesters, who pulled it down with steel chains last December, and smashed the granite figure with sledgehammers.
The Ukrainian opposition is 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.” 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.
A suspected arsonist who was allegedly paid for setting vehicles on fire in Kiev has been detained by police. The suspect, a Georgian citizen, was apprehended last night as he was attempting to commit “an unlawful act,” Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said on its website. It posted a video of the man’s interrogation.
The detainee, 26, told the police that he came to Ukraine to work. But after failing to find a job, he went to Maidan where he met some “young people,” who offered to pay him 600 grivnas ($70) for setting fire to cars. Then, he said, they went to the Trade Unions Building, home to the National Resistance Headquarters, to procure money, fuel and a list of vehicles to be burned.
The opposition has previously claimed that cars belonging to protesters were being set on fire, recalled Itar-Tass.
Ukrainian opposition leaders held talks with EU policymakers at the Munich Security Conference on various topics, including reforms in Ukraine, investigation of the crimes committed during riots in the country, EU integration and visa-free travel, Ukrainian opposition leader Pyotr Poroshenko told reporters Sunday. One of the main issues discussed was a proposal to return to the country’s 2004 constitution, “which is the basic condition for resolving the crisis, " he said. The conference was attended by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule, EU foreign ministers and others.