Ukraine updates

Update: January 29, on Facebook..
Ukraine update:

After yesterday’s flurry of Rada activity, today seems to be a day of assessing what it all means. The bottom line is that although the dismissal of PM Azarov and his cabinet may seem like a “win” for the protesters, and ‘repeal’ of the illegally-passed unconstitutional laws restricting freedom of expression, assembly and worship may seem so as well, there is little to be optimistic about.

(1) Yanukovych is still president, and free to appoint a new PM and cabinet;
(2) Yanukovych has not yet signed that repeal of the illegal laws. Members of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions have reportedly been texting that Yanukovych is threatening to dismiss the Parliament and not sign the repeal (opposition MP’s say that they have the necessary 300 votes to overturn a veto, however);
(3) At most one or two of the scores of the arrested and detained have been released, as the amnesty law has not made it through the Rada. The government continues to hold that the amnesty can only be considered AFTER the protesters relinquish all occupied facilities and places. This is of course, outrageous and unacceptable, since their LEGAL demonstrations ought not be a “price” to pay for release of ILLEGALLY-detained persons;
(4) The government continues to prepare for a military crackdown – increasing the number of Berkut riot police SIX-FOLD, ordering the transfer of military hardware from the MoD to the Interior ministry, going so far as to require all military persons to attend “loyalty training” and sign loyalty oaths. There is reportedly a relatively high percentage (not clear whether a majority) of servicemen and officers refusing to do so;
(4a) Reports continue of Russian troops secretly entering Ukraine, and being uniformed as Ukrainian Berkut troops.
(4b) Despite this becoming an almost daily concern, once again there are reports that tonight the government plans a harsh military crackdown across the country on all protesters;
(5) Putin is getting a little bit more “chesty”, hypocritically demanding that the West’s interference is unacceptable. (Just because his interference is done clandestinely does not make it any less interfering);
(6) and current issue №1 for the protesters, EU and constitutional changes aside, is the fact that to date, nobody in the government has even acknowledged the fatalities, the dozens of kidnapped and missing, and the scores of injured peaceful protesters and journalists, much less taken the tiniest step towards finding those responsible and holding them accountable. If these crimes against the citizenry are not addressed, it is foreseen that protesters will NOT relinquish their positions, regardless what the three opposition leaders negotiate.

Reportedly, the Hague is looking into possible crimes against humanity charges against Yanukovych’s government.

Meanwhile, in the other regions of Ukraine, hired titushky continue to assault peaceful protesters with impunity, even being shielded by Interior Ministry troops and Berkut. Police ignore people’s calls for arresting these thugs when they are clearly committing violent crimes in full view.

As prof. Mychailo Wynnyckyj (Kyiv-Mohyla Academy) commented on his Facebook page, the mood on the Euromaidan is one of apprehension. The seeming “progress” is seen as not real progress, and is feared to be just a stalling tactic, trying to get the people off their guard, and there is a very real concern that violent break-up of the demonstrations is still on Yanukovych’s agenda.

That said, Yanukovych’s circle of loyalists seems to continue to shrink. Several oligarchs have long-since abandoned him (including Akhmetov & Firtash). The aforementioned military personnel including officers refusing to sign loyalty oaths, the defection of ever-more Party of Regions deputies (evidenced by the “300 votes” the opposition believes they have right now), and the refusal of even some Interior ministry and Berkut troops to raise arms against the people are further indications of his dwindling power. That power is, however, still formidable, and should not be underestimated, nor his resolve. The man is viewed by many as a sociopath, and should not be presumed incapable of the most heinous acts.

Yanukovych just concluded a meeting with the rada deputies from the Party of Regions, and apparently there was much shouting. No report about the content of the discussion, but it was apparently not smooth sailing. Not clear whether he attempted to bring and/or succeeded in bringing them all back into line, or if he was rebuffed.

Yanukovych is now reportedly meeting again with the opposition leaders (Yatsenyuk, Klitschko and Tyahnybok)..

President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych,, made some deals with the Party of Regions and left the hearing with his bodyguards. As one of the UP’s journalists stated – Yanukovych persuaded his party of something since from time to time applauses were heard. At the same time Andriy Shevchenko stated that Yanukovych was angry and unsatisfied when he left the cinema where the hearing took place. Yanukovych did not answer the journalist’s questions: “who will be responsible for the victims?”, “how many more deaths will there be?”, and “how much longer will people be left in the forest?”.

Amnesty law: Yanukovych stopped mutiny within his party

ImageYesterday, January 29th, the Parliament could have adopted not only amnesty law, but also constitutional reform and set a new majority, writes The Insider.

Initially, four amnesty bills providing for release of Maidan activists have been brought into the Parliament, with two coming from the opposition MPs and the other two from Party of the Regions (PoR).

While opposition factions were not ready to support PoR-drafted bills, pro-government majority representatives insisted upon their colleague’s Yuriy Miroshnichenko’s draft law. The bill gives all protesters 15 days time to leave all administrative buildings and streets (except Maydan) as a condition or applying the amnesty bill.

According to different sources, some part of Party of Regions’ members (at most those controlled by Ukrainian business tycoons Rinat Akhmetov and Dmytro Firtash) disagreed with the majority and were ready not only to support one of the opposition-drafted bills, but join the parliamentary minority and vote for constitutional changes.

This was a worrying sign for PoR-led majority, which decided to conduct a meeting and convince all faction’s members to support Miroshnichenko bill. Predicting possible split in PoR faction and parliamentary majority, President Yanukovych immediately came to Verkhovna Rada to personally press MPs to back Miroshnichenko-drafted variant and prevent the setup of a new majority.

Anonymous sources say that President was screaming, using obscene rhetoric, and threatening rebelling MPs with very tough sanctions.

After “the revolt” was put down, MPs supported draft law tabled by Miroshnichenko with 232 votes.

At the same time, some sources do not rule out that Russia could have been staying behind the developments that finally put obstacles on opposition’s attempts to make the most of situation in Rada. Russia has tightened customs checks for Ukrainian goods on its border boosting concerns among PoR MPs that have business interests in Russia.

By acting in this way, Moscow wanted to show what consequences Yanukovych may suffer if he decides to stick to peaceful political solution of the crisis supported by Western countries.

Under certain circumstances, newly adopted amnesty law gives Yanukovych levers to resort to violence, if protesters refuse to free administrative buildings and streets within two weeks. Violent scenario is inadmissible to the EU and the US, but, on the contrary, could be regarded with favour by Russia and its allies.

Original source

At this time “the leaders of the opposition” are having a meeting with Mr. Yanukovych.
To be continued….

and EuromaidanPR

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