News Ukaine 02/18/2014


Date: Tue, Feb 18th, 2014 5:48:15 pm   Author:

Please react by sending emails or calling your representatives.

 

VIOLENCE – AND DEATH – IN STREETS OF KYIV – GOVERNMENT DEADLINE

                Government has announced that calm must be restored by 6PM Kyiv Time or order will be restored by all available means.  Opposition and protestors read that as meaning the Maidan will be stormed.

                Government forces are encircling the city center and all Metro stops have been closed in the city center.

 

NEWS

Kyiv Post - Four reported dead, more than 100 injured as violent clashes break out near Ukraine's parliament

Kyiv Post - Russia blames Western politicians for new wave of tensions in Ukraine

                Now that is a real surprise!

Deutsche Welle - In Kyiv, Ukrainian protesters advance on Yanukovych strongholds

Kyiv Post - MPs under leadership of Klitschko trying to defend injured activists from police

Reuters: Ukraine security forces give protesters 6 pm deadline to end unrest

Kyiv Post – Kyiv administration building on fire

                Reuters – German foreign minister tries new tone to court Russia

                                The “reset” delusion infects not only Washington – the reality of Russia so easily escapes those who will not see

The New York Times - A Ukraine City Spins Beyond the Government’s Reach

RUSSIA

Window on Eurasia: Three Statistics with Long Shadows for Russia

                Interesting stuff about Russians propaganda fed views of what is happening in Ukraine

Window on Eurasia: Putin’s New Conservatism an Instrumental Value, Moscow Commentators Say

                Oh no, say it isn’t so – Putin adopts values to serve his political objectives!!!

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Faces Five Growing Obstacles to Integrating Post-Soviet Space, MGIMO Professor Says

 

 

 

UKRAINE NEWS

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

                Kyiv Post

 

Four reported dead, more than 100 injured as violent clashes break out near Ukraine's parliament

Feb. 18, 2014, 5:16 p.m. | Kyiv — by Kyiv Post                        

Anti-government protesters and Red Cross workers carry a wounded demonstrator during clashes with police in front of the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev on February 18, 2014. Police on Tuesday fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing protesters as they demonstrated close to Ukraine's parliament in Kiev, an AFP reporter at the scene said. Police also responded with smoke bombs after protesters hurled paving stones at them as they sought to get closer to the heavily-fortified parliament building. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY
Open warfare broke out on the streets of Kyiv today, with four persons reportedly killed and more than 100 people injured.

Dr. Olga Bogomolets, a physician, told the Kyiv Post at 3:30 p.m. today that three protesters had been shot to death while dozens more were injured, including many with serious wounds. The Emergencies Ministry reported a fourth casualty, that of an employee for the ruling pro-presidential Party of Regions, apparently killed after protesters stormed the party office on Lypska Street. 

Oleh Musiy, the medical director for the anti-government protesters, said at 4:45 p.m. that the three dead victims would be identified soon. He said that one victim died from a gunshot wound to the head while two others died from head injuries.

The identities of the dead were not immediately available.

The four deaths came in the aftermath of renewed violent clashes that pit thousands of police and protesters against each other at several locations near Ukraine's parliament building in Kyiv. Police said that at least 37 police officers were injured, but that number could not be confirmed by other sources. 

The Institute of Mass Information said that at least 15 journalists covering the violence were attacked by police. 

The three major areas of clashes in Kyiv are on Institututska and Shovkovychna streets, Hrushevskoho Street and Mariinsky Park. Police by mid-afternoon had repelled protesters from a government district that includes the Presidential Administration, the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers.

Acting Security Services of Ukraine head Oleksandr Yakymenko and acting Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko issued a public warning at 4 p.m. to protesters to clear the streets within two hours: “If by 6 p.m. the lawlessness doesn't cease, we shall be forced to used all legal means to bring order.”

Kyiv's metro was closed by 4:30 p.m. and roads leading to Kyiv were blocked by police.

A commandant for the opposition-occupied Ukrainian House announced at 5 p.m. that police officers stormed the building, forcing the evacutation of civilians.

Police beat, chase demonstrators to Independence Square

By mid-afternoon, thousands of police officers had encircled the government district that includes the Presidential Administration complex, parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers. They chased protesters down to Independence Square, from Institutska and Hrushevskhoho streets near parliament, banging on their protective metal shields and encouraging each other.

Police also beat and kicked protesters along the way to Independence Square, leaving several seriously injured protesters on the street. 

Glass windows were shattered at the Khreshchatyk Street metro stop. A police officer grabbed the gas mask of a Kyiv Post journalist on Institutska Street, and said "I love it! We love it!" of the police advance. Police showed journalists bullet holes in their metal shields to prove that demonstrators also fired on them with guns.

At October Palace, visible from Independence Square, riot threw bricks down the hill at protesters, including women, from a bridge along Institutska Street.

Also, at 3:45 p.m., hundreds of riot police advanced on Shovkovychna Street towards Ukraine's parliament, attacking protesters.

Meanwhile, in Mariinsky Park, police and hired government thugs armed with bats -- known as "titushkis" -- had cornered a group of anti-government protesters inside a building on Mariinsky Park. The police and "titushkis" behaved aggressively and escorted the protesters from the building and marched them towards the center down Hrushevskoho Street. It wasn't clear where police were taking the captured protesters. 

A priest gives last rites to three demonstrators shot to death today by police. Their bodies were taken to the House of Officers on Hrushevskoho Street. The dead had not yet been publicly identified by 4 p.m.

Yuriy Lutsenko, the nation's former top cop who is now an opposition leader, took the stage on Independence Square and urged police officers to not use violdence.

“Soldiers don’t take blood onto your hands by protecting these gangsters in power. If you step foot on the Maidan (Independence Square) this is your choice. Whoever passes this threshold determines their country’s future. Nobody among the Interior Ministry generals or the president is among you soliders, I’m here addressing you," Lutsenko said. "They are in their stolen private jets. We have a common enemy. This enemy is (President Viktor) Yanukovych and his gang who steals from you and us. You just need one more step to join us and lay down your shields. Your wives and children are waiting for you at home like heroes not like punishers. We remain here on free territory of our liberty. There will be more here soon. Don’t follow orders. You won’t be a traitor if you join us. Show your true soul and hearts.”

Crowds also chanted: "Kyiv, wake up!" and "Kyiv, stand up!" Women were asked to gather together near the stage as men took the front lines against police.

Protesters set tires and trucks on fire on Institutska Street in Kyiv today.

Chaos, gunshots and blood

Hours earlier, at 1:30 p.m., police officers had once again taken up sniper positions by on the roof of a five-story, commercial-residential building on 17/5 Institutska Street. Officers fired down onto crowds of protesters, after being repelled earlier in the day by demonstrators. Other officers fired indiscriminately into charging crowds of protesters.

The Institutska Street building, which protesters set on fire this morning and at one time controlled, has been the scene of today's most violent clashes so far. 

Besides firing guns, police used clubs, tear gas and flash grenades in a bid to repel thousands of demonstrators who this morning marched on the Verkhovna Rada, as parliament failed to meet today to consider opposition demands for a new constitution and new government.

Protesters struck back, armed with sticks, stones, metal bars, fireworks and Molotov cocktails and other explosives.

Police started firing guns before noon, using rubber bullets and metal bullets, in a bid to repel advancing protesters. Dozens of police and protesters were injured by 1 p.m. with the clashes continuing and the number of victims growing higher. 

At least two men were shot in the head with rubber bullets, while several front-line protesters were also fired upon by police. Yet other protesters were seen bleeding profusely from the head and carried away from the scene. Protesters also attacked police officers.

Three major areas of clashes

The clashes broke out in at least three separate approaches to parliament after several thousand demonstrators gathered at 8 a.m. on Kyiv's Independence Square: on Mariinsky Park, on Hrushevskoho Street and on Institutska Street near Shovkovychna Street. The most serious clashes were taking place on Institutska and Shovkovychna streets.

One of dozens injured in clashes today between police and protesters.

Institutska Street and Shovkovychna Street

By 1:30 p.m., police had regained control of the intersection after a see-saw battle with protesters that injured several people on both sides. Numerous police reinforcements, who had been rushed to a five-story building on 17/5 Institutska St. where protesters had trapped officers, regained control and once again took up sniper positions on the rooftop and started firing on crowds below.

Police officers on foot charged a group of protesters with shotguns and fired into the crowd, hitting at least one young man in the eye. The victim was bleeding profusely before being taken away to a hospital by several medics. 

Earlier, hundreds of police officers had been repelled after trying to regain control of Institutska and Shovkovychyna streets. They were attacked by protesters. The scene was one of smoke, noise and chaos as protesters tried to block the intersection with park benches and dumpsters. One officer was beaten unconscious. Protesters were bleeding from the head. Around noon, several police trucks had been set on fire.

Before noon, at least four officers took up rooftop positions on 17/5 Institutska St., a five-story residential and commerical building, and were throwing smoke and flash grenades down on protesters who tossed fireworks back up at the police. Other officers had taken positions inside the building.

A group of protesters then stormed the building, broke windows and tried to attack the police snipers. The front entrance of 17/5 Institutska St. was set on fire as protesters shouted at police. The front entrance of the building was in flames. As police tried to exit, they were forced back inside by protesters.

At least nine protesters made it to the building's roof, some of them brandishing metal bars, in a tense standoff. Police briefly had retreated and protesters triumphantly scaled the roof and were waving a large Ukrainian flag. 

The clashes started after some two dozen demonstrators moved a police vehicle blocking their path to parliament. Many demonstrators dug up paving stones underneath their feet and passed them to the front line for dozens of fighters to throw at police. The brigade included old and young women.

Opposition lawmaker Volodymyr Ariev said on Twitter: "Law enforcers were the first to use grenades and shoot. When lawmaker Olena Kondratiuk tried to pass them, they were aiming at her legs."

Smoke was everywhere as convoys of protesters continued to dig up and pass paving stones to front-line fighters. 

Protesters throw stones at police as firefighters try to put out a fire to a building on 17/5 Institutska St., where officers had been firing from the rooftop down on a crowd of demonstrators.

Party of Regions office on Lypska Street set on fire

By 12: 30 p.m., police had regained control of a ruling Party of Regions building on nearby Lypska Street, which protesters had stormed and set on fire earlier in the day.

A group of protesters nearby at 11:30 a.m. broke into the building. Journalist and opposition activist Tetyana Chornovol was among the protesters who scaled the fence. Other protesters broke windows of the party building.

Someone with a hose inside fired water outside on the attacking demonstrators. Chornovol entered the party building and gleefully threw documents outside. A person inside the party building threw water bottles from a second floor window on protesters. There were no police or guards immediately present. Demonstrators beat down the front door with a hatchet.

Smoke billows from a building at 17/5 Institutska St., where police snipers had been firing gunshots on a crowd of protesters before demonstrators charged the building.

Hrushevskoho Street

Police by mid-afternoon were pushing protesters up Hrushevskoho Street, towards Arsenalna metro station near Mariinsky Park.

Demonstrators had massed on Hrushevskhoho Street, the flashpoint for deadline between police and protesters from Jan. 19-22, killing four demonstrators, including three from gunshot wounds.

Hundreds of "people's self-defense" took up positions between barricades abandoned only a day earlier Feb. 17. A Kyiv Post reporter on the scene said they appeared to be bracing for violent conflict as riot police amassed on the other side. 

Demonstrators on Hrushevskoho Street burned tires, as they have done in previous standoffs, to create a smokescreen between them and police. 

Oleksandr Chaban of Kyiv came to support demonstrators on Hrushevskoho Street, but says he doesn't believe the fight will be at this location. "Too many police officers on the other side here just stupid to fight against that. Besides that I hope the situation can still be peacefully resolved in parliament today," he said. "Besides I hope that the sitaution can still be peacefully resolved in parliament today."

However, 300 to 400 "people's self-defense" fighters massed in rows, put on their masks and stood in rows as if ready for fighting. The effect was to draw police away from Institutska Street, the scene of today's most violent clashes so far, and back down on Hrushevskoho Street.

A tense scene was forming on Hrushevskhoho Street as violence broke out near parliament on Institutytska and Shovkovichnya streets in Kyiv.

Mariinsky Park

By mid-afternoon, police drove back up to 10,000 protesters towards Arsenalna metro station from Mariinsky Park, where demonstrators earlier in the day had built barricades some 200 meters from the Verkhovna Rada. 

Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd that chanted "fascists" as they retreated. Dozens of activists were injured in this park alone, and at least one police officer as well.

Yevhen Nishchuk, one of the emcees for the anti-government EuroMaidan protests, asked activists to stay in Mariinsky Park and near the Verkhovna Rada parliament building.

Pro-government demonstrators and "titushki" -- or hired government thugs -- were also in the park. Demonstrators threw stun grenades at "titushki," filling the park with smoke. Other anti-government activists tried to keep the pro-government and anti-government forces apart.

The anti-government protesters included many members of the opposition Svoboda Party, who chanted "Together to victory!"

About 11 a.m, protesters broke down a metal fence that separated police from protesters, but were stopped in their advance by police firing tear gas. The protesters did not retreat, however, and instead built barricades. 

Protesters get ready for battle with police on Hrushevskoho Street on Feb. 18.

 

Parliament doesn't meet

While today’s parliamentary session had yet to start as of noon, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said that parliament speaker Volodymyr Rybak, is to blame.

“I want to emphasize that the responsibility lies on the shoulders of Rybak. He received the assignment from Bankova (the Presidential Administration) not to register the bill (on returning to the 2004 Constitution lessening presidential powers) in any case.” Klitschko said. “The president can’t every time come and talk with the deputies. There is high probability that the majority can vote for returning to the Constitution of 2004 and the authorities are afraid of that.”

Parliament apparently will only consider a new prime minister and constitutional changes on Feb. 20. Oleksandr Doniy, an independent lawmaker, said: "They handed out the agenda (for today's session) as if there is no crisis in the country. All the issues on it are secondary."

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

            Kyiv Post

 

Russia blames Western politicians for new wave of tensions in Ukraine

Feb. 18, 2014, 2:58 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Current wave of tensions in central Kyiv

The current wave of tensions in central Kyiv directly results from the policy pursued by Western politicians, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Deutsche Welle

 

In Kyiv, Ukrainian protesters advance on Yanukovych strongholds

Ukrainian protesters have broken police lines to advance on buildings controlled by the main governing party. Reports have emerged that three protesters have been killed.

0:00:00|0:00:00

Fresh violence in Ukraine

Continuing the opposition's long fight, 20,000 people massed Tuesday outside parliament to push lawmakers to return Ukraine to its 2004 constitution, under which key powers would shift from President Viktor Yanukovych to legislators. In what the opposition had called a "peaceful offensive" to pressure lawmakers, the demonstrators marched from Kyiv's Independence Square, where protesters have maintained their headquarters over three months of uprising against Yanukovych's rule.

"We hope that the deputies from the majority will recognize what they have to do and allow a vote on constitutional change," Oleg Tyagnybok, leader of the nationalist party Svoboda (Freedom), told journalists Tuesday.

In November, Yanukovych had shelved an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of a loan and natural gas deal with Russia. That move prompted mass protests calling for his resignation in Ukraine. Additionally, members of the opposition have called for constitutional reform to curb the powers of the president.

'A way out'

Security forces have repeatedly resorted to brutal measures against protesters. As the response to demonstrations turned violent Tuesday, the opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urged Yanukovych to call off his riot police, the Berkut, to prevent further conflict.

"I am appealing to the president," said Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion-turned-opposition leader. "Take the Berkut and Interior forces off the streets. Do this and it will provide a way out. It will be the decision of a real man."

Opposition lawmakers joined the protesters in the streets. Inside parliament, deputies from those parties blocked the speaker's dais after Volodymyr Rybak, the first deputy of President Yanukovych's Party of Regions, refused to put the reform initiatives on the daily agenda.

Better in Berlin

Monday's visit to Berlin by Klitschko and former Interior Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk aimed to garner support from Merkel's government for the opposition's efforts to curb Yanukovych's powers. The chancellor's spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said Merkel had expressed "sympathy for the legitimate concerns of the Ukrainian people." He also said that she had reassured Klitschko and Yatsenyuk that Germany, in cooperation with the EU, would do everything it could to contribute to a positive outcome to the crisis.

Though Merkel said she supported the opposition's goals of pushing for constitutional reform and a new government, she said that she did not agree with Klitschko's calls for sanctions. Further financial support from the EU and possible penalties against the Ukrainian government were also discussed during the closed-door talks.

On Monday, the German Foreign Ministry had called recent developments in Kyiv "encouraging." Following protesters' ending their two-month occupation of city hall in the capital, the Ukrainian government announced that a long-sought amnesty for jailed protesters had officially gone into effect.

On Tuesday, as protesters forced their way into the headquarters of Yanukovych's party headquarters and looked set to begin a new occupation while the parliament failed to address reforms, "encouraging" appeared a less-likely modifier.

mkg/tj (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

 

 

 

 

                Reuters

 

German foreign minister tries new tone to court Russia

BY ALEXANDRA HUDSON

(Reuters) - While others in Europe debate how best to contain Vladimir Putin, Germany's foreign minister is on a mission to revive damaged ties with Moscow with a combination of public flattery and behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier's Social Democrats (SPD), junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's new coalition, enjoy better chemistry with Russia's leaders than her previous center-right government and he hopes this can open channels on Syria and Ukraine and help Brussels and Moscow to see eye-to-eye.

But Germany may be overestimating the leverage its trade ties give it over Russia and risks appearing naive if it mutes criticism of Putin without influencing his policies in return.

Relations between Russia and the European Union have been strained to the limit by Moscow's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and mutual accusations of meddling in Ukraine. President Putin's crackdown on dissent at home has dismayed the West, once hopeful of democratic change in Russia.

European leaders stayed away in droves from the opening of the Winter Olympics in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi this month and Brussels cancelled a dinner with Putin at a January summit to express its anger at the tug-of-war over Ukraine.

In this context, Steinmeier - an old friend of Moscow - has picked a risky path by making overtures to Putin.

"Nothing is possible without Russia," was Steinmeier's message during a two-day trip to Moscow last week. The other message was that Berlin wanted to set a "positive agenda" with Russia rather than just bashing it for rights abuses.

Since returning in December to a post he held in Merkel's first 'grand coalition' with the SPD from 2005-2009, Steinmeier has pledged a more muscular foreign and security policy - and Merkel has delegated the tricky matter of Russia to the SPD.

His trip came just weeks after his predecessor Guido Westerwelle of the liberal Free Democrats stood in solidarity with Ukraine's opposition in Kiev, further angering a Kremlin irked by months of German criticism.

Westerwelle, who is openly gay, had been very critical of Russia's controversial ban on homosexual "propaganda".

OUTSOURCING RUSSIA

The 58-year-old Steinmeier was rewarded with a meeting with Putin, a rare honor for a visiting foreign minister. The two men forged good personal ties when Steinmeier worked for the SPD chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Merkel's predecessor.

Schroeder cultivated a hearty, macho rapport with Putin, once referring to him as a "flawless democrat". Schroeder now works as chairman of Gazprom's Nord Stream gas pipeline and has adopted two children from Russia.

By contrast, Merkel has never enjoyed warm relations with Putin, a German-speaking former KGB agent who spent five years in Dresden in East Germany's twilight years. Merkel herself grew up in East Germany and speaks Russian.

"Russia is not terribly important to Merkel. It counts more for Steinmeier," said Alexander Rahr, research director at the German-Russia forum in Berlin.

"She thinks she can't achieve very much with Moscow... and she doesn't have this affinity for Russia which many Social Democrats do who grew up in the years of 'Ostpolitik'," said Rahr, referring to the SPD-led policy of greater engagement with Germany's communist neighbors to the east during the 1970s.

"Merkel appears to have outsourced Russia policy, although she will still have ultimate control... She trusts Steinmeier and doesn't want to fight in the front line for Russia."

Putin still left Steinmeier in the dark for hours about whether he would actually get the audience last Friday, with the Russian president finally meeting him just when the German minister was due to meet rights groups working in Moscow.

"DEAR SERGEI..."

The limits of Steinmeier's scope for success were evident during his trip. An idea floated by the Germans that the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) could mediate in Ukraine's political crisis was essentially ignored.

At a joint news conference with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who Steinmeier calls "Dear Sergei", Lavrov slammed the EU for continuing to send emissaries to Kiev and telling it to take sides, leaving the German minister uncomfortable.

Steinmeier himself, in his inaugural speech last December, said it was "outrageous" that Moscow had exploited Ukraine's dire economic needs to persuade it to drop an association agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Two weeks ago, Steinmeier met Ukrainian opposition leaders in Munich and they return to Germany on Monday to visit Merkel.

Steinmeier wants to see Russia and the EU both using their influence to encourage dialogue between protesters and the Kiev government and working towards a peaceful solution.

Rahr said it was "scandalous" for the EU to reduce its last summit with Russia to just a few hours, adding: "We can't just negate Russia and pretend it doesn't exist."

"Germany's position is right. It will be difficult and we will never push through our own views ... but we have to speak to Russia and deal sensibly with them. Thank goodness Germany has realized this in contrast to some other EU states."

In Moscow, experts said there would be relief that at least one important EU country has tempered its lecturing tone.

(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke in Berlin and Gabriela Bacynska in Moscow; Editing by Stephen BrownNoah Barkin and Gareth Jones)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Kyiv Post

 

MPs under leadership of Klitschko trying to defend injured activists from police

Feb. 18, 2014, 4:27 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

UDAR Party leader Vitali Klitcshko
MPs of Ukraine together with UDAR Party leader Vitali Klitcshko, have freed two seriously injured activists from within the police perimeter and have brought them to the medical services.

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

            Reuters

 

Reuters: Ukraine security forces give protesters 6 pm deadline to end unrest

Feb. 18, 2014, 4:37 p.m. | Ukraine abroad — by Reuters

Ukraine security forces give protesters 6 pm deadline to end unrest
Ukrainian security forces on Tuesday set protesters a 6 p.m. deadline to end street disturbances or face "tough measures", a statement said.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

            Kyiv Post

 

Kyiv administration building on fire

 

Feb. 18, 2014, 4:49 p.m. |

Kyiv City Administration building on fire
A fire broke out at the Kyiv city administration building at about 3 pm on Tuesday. A fire brigade is tackling the fire, the city administration said on its website. 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

            The New York Times

 

 

A Ukraine City Spins Beyond the Government’s Reach

By ANDREW HIGGINSFEB. 15, 2014

Young masked men guarding the entrance to the Lviv Region State Administration. They seized the offices of the governor, Oleh Salo, and do not let him enter. Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

·          

LVIV, UKRAINE — Oleh Salo, the Ukrainian state’s senior representative in this western region, was hard at work keeping up appearances. He had just completed a new budget, he explained, and had an urgent meeting with the newly appointed local chief of Ukraine’s security service.

Yet, Mr. Salo, the governor, expelled by protesters from his suite of offices on the second floor of the Lviv Region State Administration, is virtually powerless, scurrying between makeshift temporary quarters as he struggles to maintain an increasingly threadbare illusion that his boss, Ukraine’s embattled President Viktor F. Yanukovych, is still running this breakaway part of the country.

“We now have two powers here, a formal one that is not real and is not recognized by anyone, and people power,” said Andriy Sokolev, a local trade union head who led about 2,000 antigovernment protesters in storming the governor’s offices in late January.

 

In a cosmopolitan city of beguiling beauty that has been tossed over the centuries between Polish, Austrian and Russian overlords, these are tumultuous times.

200 MILES

Three months after the outbreak of demonstrations in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, over Mr. Yanukovych’s decision to spurn a trade deal with Europe and tilt toward Russia, power has shifted decisively here in the western half of this divided country, where the president has never had much support.

Seeking to ease a volatile stalemate in the capital, the authorities in Kiev on Friday said they had freed all 234 people who had been arrested, mostly for taking part in violent clashes last month with the police.

The opposition has also sought to ease tensions, with a leading opposition party, Svoboda, saying on Saturday that it was ready to end its occupation of Kiev City Hall. But other groups like Right Sector, a coalition of hard-line forces with deep roots in western Ukraine, said seized buildings should remain occupied until Mr. Yanukovych resigned and all criminal proceedings against protesters were halted.

In sharp contrast to Kiev, where the Soviet-built center of the city has been taken over by noisy protesters and throbs night and day to the din of fiery speeches and chants for Mr. Yanukovych to step down, there are few outward signs of turmoil on Lviv’s cobblestone streets. The architecture traces the city’s past, from the colonnaded relics of the Hapsburg Empire, to the mansions of long-gone Polish nobles and the homes of vanished Jewish and Armenian traders.

The state, its administration under siege, is having trouble paying pensions and other welfare payments but the police patrol the streets and even Mr. Salo, the widely detested governor, says he can walk around the city without fear.

The regional council, or legislature, firmly in the hands of the opposition, on Thursday passed the budget prepared by Mr. Salo, a sign, the president’s allies in Kiev say, that common ground can still be found.

The calm reflects the fact that the city and the surrounding Lviv Region have largely achieved what protesters in Kiev have been demanding since November: the end, at least for now, of the authority of Mr. Yanukovych.

Nearly three weeks after being ejected from his offices, the governor still cannot enter the administration building, where the entrance is now guarded by young masked men with wooden clubs and sealed off by a high barricade of rubber tires. A statue in the lobby is draped with the flag of the European Union.

In an interview in a room hastily borrowed from the regional cultural department, the governor said that he was away from his office when the protesters stormed in and that he received a panicked call on his mobile phone. “Please save us. You have to do something to save us,” he recalled a staff member screaming.

The governor rushed back to see what was going on and, confronted by the angry crowd, resigned. He later withdrew his resignation, saying it had been given under duress.

No one was hurt in the attack, which followed a December decision by the regional council to cancel the governor’s office lease, a move initially meant as only a symbolic act of protest against President Yanukovych. Administration buildings have also been seized in at least two other western regions, and more radical elements, like Mr. Sokolev who led the occupation in Lviv, warn of fierce resistance if the authorities deploy weapons against protesters.

“If they use force, we would use counterforce,” Mr. Sokolev said, noting that hunting rifles are easy to find. The government in Kiev has accused the opposition of stockpiling weapons.

Mr. Sokolev, who declared himself “commandant” after the January seizing of the regional administration, has stumbled in rallying support for his militant line. Hit by a bout of bronchitis, he now sits at home with his family, fuming that what he thought was a revolution has not yet secured a more decisive victory across the whole country.

But so strong is the tide running against the president in Lviv that even his local supporters are jumping ship. “People appointed by Yanukovych are not accepted here at all,” said Petro Pysarchuk, a wealthy Lviv businessman and chairman of the now-moribund Lviv branch of the president’s Party of Regions.

Such sentiments highlight just how few options Mr. Yanukovych has as he struggles to survive a political crisis that has ballooned into a Cold War-style struggle between East and West. He traveled to Sochi, Russia, last Friday for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games and talks with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin. The Kremlin has indicated it wants Mr. Yanukovych to take firm action against the protesters.

Oleh Salo, the governor, has to shuttle between makeshift quarters in Lviv, an opposition stronghold in western Ukraine. Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

The battle, however, has already been lost in Lviv, a bastion of nationalist resistance to control by Moscow during the Soviet Union and, in recent months, a powerful engine driving the insurgency against Mr. Yanukovych.

“How can you give orders when nobody is listening?” asked Lviv’s elected mayor, Andriy Sadovyy, a firm ally of the president’s pro-Europe foes. Aligned with protesters, the municipal administration, unlike that of the governor, still functions normally.

Mr. Yanukovych’s last potent lever of influence here, the troops of the Interior Ministry’s western region command, has been disabled by barricades set up by antigovernment activists to prevent soldiers from leaving their barracks.

Andriy Porodko, a 29-year-old fairground concession-holder in command of the barricades, acknowledged that the flimsy barriers could easily be swept aside by a single armored personnel carrier. But he is gambling that, despite declarations of loyalty to Mr. Yanukovych from the Defense and Interior Ministries, troops in Lviv will balk at following any orders that risk spilling blood.

Fueled by bitter memories of Soviet repression, the anger at Mr. Yanukovych is so deep in western Ukraine that “some suggest we should separate to try and maintain some form of normal life,” said Myroslav Marynovych, vice rector of the Lviv-based Ukrainian Catholic University.

A former dissident who spent 10 years in Soviet prison camps, Mr. Marynovych said Ukrainian nationalists like himself had no desire to rip apart the nation they struggled so long to achieve, but would do whatever it took to avoid being dragged back into Russia’s orbit, which they see as Mr. Yanukovych’s objective.

Separating from mainly Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine to the east, he added, is “certainly not part of our program, but we have to have a plan B, a plan C and even a plan D.”

In many ways, however, Lviv has already seceded as authority has drained away from Mr. Yanukovych and his government in Kiev, still without a prime minister more than two weeks after the last one resigned.

Mr. Salo, the governor without an office, predicted that, one way or another, the central government would restore its grip but noted that Lviv’s “insurgent spirit” has always made it resistant to outside authority. “This struggle has been going on for 400 years,” he said. “Our region has never accepted authority.”

Some of the president’s longtime opponents here have taken an increasingly radical line.

Offering inspiration and advice has been Yuriy Shukhevych, a blind veteran nationalist who spent 31 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps and whose father, Roman, led the Ukrainian Insurgent Army against Polish and then Soviet rule.

Mr. Shukhevych, 80, who lost his sight during his time in the Soviet gulag, helped guide the formation of Right Sector, an unruly organization whose fighters now man barricades around Independence Square, the epicenter of the protest movement in Kiev.

Mr. Sadovyy, Lviv’s mayor, said Mr. Yanukovych and his supporters had exaggerated the risk of extremism to scare people into submission. But he added that they should not ignore the region’s passions to join Europe and to stay out of the orbit of Russia, which, well into the 1950s, was still hunting down Ukrainian nationalist fighters sheltering in the forests around the city.

“There is not a single family in Lviv that doesn’t remember the repression, that doesn’t have relatives who were killed, sent to the camps or forced to emigrate,” he said.

He acknowledged that many people have unrealistic hopes for what Europe can bring, noting that “everyone is waiting for a miracle but miracles happen only in fairy tales.”

But unlike Ukrainians living in the east of the country, people in the west have seen with their own eyes how nearby towns across the border in Poland that were poor and miserable when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 have been transformed by subsidies and investment from the European Union.

“Poland is only an hour away by car,” Mr. Sadovyy said. “People can see the changes there and ask, ‘Why has nothing changed here?’ ”



Defenders of Ukraine Day

Sunday, October 16, 2022 12:30 pm -Recall the history and traditions of Ukrainian defenders in different historical eras, starting from the Cossack era to the modern Armed Forces of Ukraine - Sample Cossack "kulish", "kiflyky" and "mandryky"

Help for Ukraine

Donate the following new or gently used items: hand & feet warmers; men's socks; gloves & thermals; men;s winter boots; warm blankets;sleeping bags.
House of the Seven Gables, Salem MA  - October 1- December 15th
Thank you

70th Anniversary Silent Auction

UAYA Boston 70th Anniversary Silent Auction & Raffle Charity Event Friday, November 4, 2022 6-11 pm Stoughton, MA

Don't Close Your Eyes: Ukrainian Artists Respond to the War

Featuring 26 Ukrainian artists from various parts of Ukraine
Opening reception Saturday, November 5th 5-8pm at The New Art Corridor, Newton - MA

We are back online.
Please check-in to see
current and past community
events. Please note,
it may take a while before
we catch up with events
that took place during
the last few years.


2022 marks the 90th anniversary
of the Ukrainian Holodomor.
It is vitally important to keep advocating
for its recognition as genocide
by the United States government.
Your actions are crucial for a successful
result of our efforts. Below is a sample
text that you can use to contact the
President to recognize Holodomor
as a genocide. If you have any questions
or comments, please contact the 
U.S. Holodomor Committee
 at:
UkraineGenocide@gmail.com

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/


Ways to Help Ukraine



Ways to Help Ukraine


Read More

Petition: Revoke Walter Duranty Pulitzer Prize

Read More