Ukraine Opposition Set For Talks With John Kerry

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's opposition leaders were set to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, after the army urged embattled President Viktor Yanukovych to act urgently to end two months of turmoil.

US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, Germany.

Yanukovych on Friday scrapped controversial anti-protest laws but the reappearance of a leading protester, his face swollen and caked in blood, did little to win over the opposition or international opinion.

Yanukovych, who has been on sick leave since Thursday, repealed draconian anti-protest laws passed in January that had radicalised the two-month anti-government protest movement.

The street rallies first erupted when the president backed out of a key pact with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

He also signed an amnesty bill for jailed opposition activists, but it will only take effect if protesters vacate the public buildings they have occupied within 15 days.

The manoeuvres came after opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov, who went missing more than a week ago, reappeared Thursday night, saying he was tortured by abductors who cut off his ear and drove nails through his hands before dumping him in a forest.

"They crucified me, nailed me, cut my ear off, cut my face," Bulatov said in televised remarks.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the US was "appalled" at the "obvious signs of torture" inflicted on Bulatov.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also said she was "appalled" while Amnesty International said the "barbaric" act should be immediately investigated.

Ashton said she would return next week to Ukraine, condemning what she described as instances of intimidation and torture against the opposition there.

Ukraine's interior ministry was reported by Interfax as saying Bulatov would be placed under house arrest for a week under suspicion of organising major unrest.

The protest movement's leaders claim that abuse and beatings of activists are widespread.

A recent outbreak of violence in the protests saw several people shot dead and turned parts of the capital Kiev into a battle zone.

Army weighs in 

Weighing in on the crisis for the first time, the Ukrainian armed forces called for Yanukovych to act urgently to stabilise the situation.

The defence ministry, which previously said it would not interfere in the crisis, said the seizure of government buildings was unacceptable and warned that "further escalation of the confrontation threatens the country's territorial integrity".

Ukraine's security service soon after announced a criminal probe into an opposition attempt to seize state power, after information on confiscated computers allegedly revealed the mass protests were "pre-planned".

"An investigation for an attempted takeover of power has been opened," Maxime Lenko, head of the investigations department of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was "very concerned by attempts to involve the military in the crisis".

"Ukraine's military is highly respected and must remain neutral," he said on Twitter.

Political analyst Vadym Karasyov said the military's statement indicated it would side with the president.

The amnesty leaves open the possibility that protesters could be allowed to stay at their barricaded camp on Kiev's Independence Square.

Opposition supporters are refusing to leave the camp despite a string of concessions from the authorities, including Yanukovych's acceptance of the resignation of prime minister Mykola Azarov and the entire cabinet.

John Kerry to meet opposition leaders 

Kerry said in Berlin that the measures pledged by Yanukovych did not go far enough.

Opposition leaders including boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko are due to meet Kerry for the first time Saturday, a meeting sure to infuriate Russia, which has warned against foreign interference in Ukraine.

The announcement of the meeting, on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, came as the White House said it was consulting with Congress over possible sanctions on Ukraine.

On Friday, opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Batkivshchyna party met German President Joachim Gauck and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, saying they had voiced support of his people's "fight for freedoms and liberties".

Yatsenyuk also met the EU's Ashton separately.

In November, Yanukovych scrapped an integration deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Kiev's historical master Moscow, sparking huge protests.

The unrest has since spiralled into an uprising demanding the president's removal.

Yanukovych on Thursday attacked the "irresponsible" opposition for inflaming tensions but also admitted the authorities had made mistakes and that he needed to take more account of the country's mood.

An advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday that the Ukrainian president would lose power if he did not "quash the rebellion".

"The president has no choice," said Kremlin economic advisor Sergei Glazyev.

Meanwhile rating firm Moody's downgraded Ukraine's sovereign debt rating a notch, citing the escalating political crisis and concerns about whether it would continue to have Russian financial support.

Moody's cut the country's rating, already in speculative territory, to Caa2 from Caa1, and put the country on "negative outlook," signalling it could be downgraded again in the medium term.

Source: New Straits Times


Igor Skakovsky said…
Ukrainian government could conduct quick social research with participation of credible western and Russian organizations in each of its regions. For instance, total population of Ukraine is approximately 45 million people, given 27 regions in the country averaging 1.6 million people per region. If simply social survey "should Ukraine sign AA agreement now or three years from now" and "should elections be conducted now or on schedule in 2015" is conducted on 800 people per region, it will give adequate understanding of a situation. Based on that government could decide if they should conduct National Referendum or not. If referendum is conducted then government can justify any of its actions since decision will be made based on the wishes of a majority of people, in other words democratically.
Igor Skakovsky said…
"Europe Should Condemn Ukraine Riots – Russian Foreign Minister.

MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti) – European politicians should condemn the seizure of government buildings by demonstrators in Ukraine, Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday.
“Why are there no voices condemning those who seize government buildings, attack the police and adopt racist and anti-Semitic slogans? Why do European leaders actually encourage such actions, when they would quickly move to punish them at home?” Sergei Lavrov said at the annual Munich Security Conference.
“What would be the reaction from the European Union, if members of the Russian government began to openly express support, including personal visits, to rioters in London, Paris or Hamburg?” he added.
In a statement Monday the EU delegation to Ukraine called on the opposition to “dissociate itself clearly from all those who make use of violence in pursuing their aims.”
The Kremlin has repeatedly accused the US and its allies of meddling in Ukrainian affairs, while Western officials have pointed to what they describe as economic pressure from Russia to force Ukraine to move more tightly into its orbit.
Demonstrations in Kiev erupted in November following an announcement that the country would drop pursuit of closer ties with the EU.
A number of government buildings, including the Justice Ministry in Kiev, have been temporarily occupied by demonstrators during the protests, which have since spread across central and western parts of the country.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed a bill into law giving amnesty to demonstrators and canceling unpopular anti-protest laws rammed through parliament two weeks ago."

I support that view. freedom should not come to Ukraine for the expanse of the economy.
I do not support the idea that if Ukraine want to have freedom it should end-up poor and job-less.
It took USA about 200 (two hundred) years to rich freedom and prosperity. If USA in the past would embrace all the freedom right it has now at the historically wrong time, today it would be totally different country.
May be better, or may be allot worse.