I've just heard a report that Viktor Yanukovych has fled Kyiv, and possibly will leave the Ukraine altogether. He has made a public statement to the effect that there was a coup. There are reports that the parliament has removed him from office, and that new elections will be held in May. Things have certainly changed radically in the last few days.
Coup in Kyiv
One thing that disturbs me is that in several accounts,
Yanokovych has said that he would raise the militias
God you're clueless. From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary,
the following sentence is found in a citation from the Concise Encyclopedia:
State-controlled volunteer militias in the U.S. became the National Guard.
You just can't be wrong huh David?
Further confusing the issue in eastern Europe, including the Ukraine,
is the use of a term similar to militia and often translated into English
as militia which is applied to armed police forces.
From the Wiktionary entry for militia: militia (plural militias).
Do you have anything pertinent and well-informed to say about the situation in the Ukraine, Mr. Authority?
Parliament in Ukraine has named its speaker as interim president.
Oleksander Turchinov takes charge following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday. Mr Turchinov told MPs they had until Tuesday to form a new unity government.
Parliament also voted to seize Mr Yanukovych's luxury estate near Kiev, which protesters entered on Saturday.
The whereabouts of Mr Yanukovych, who described parliament's decision to vote him out as a coup, remain unclear.
Thousands of protesters remain in Independence Square where the atmosphere is described as calm.
Ukraine has been gripped by mass protests since President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a far-reaching deal with the EU in favour of stronger ties with Russia in November 2013.
The unrest has united pro-EU and ultra-nationalist leaders in the fight against the government.
Here we profile some of the most prominent protest leaders.
Mr Yanukovych has left the capital Kiev and his whereabouts are unknown. On Sunday, parliament voted to return ownership of the Mezhyhirya property to the state. Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called for it to be put under state guard to prevent looting.
Seen from the point of view of Vladimir Putin, Moscow's foreign policy of late had been enjoying something of a purple patch. Putin has kept the west at bay over the conflict in Syria for three years and his client Bashar al-Assad in power. Faced with the Russian veto in the Security Council, the doctrine of responsibility to protect and humanitarian interventions has been pushed back.
And for a brief period it appeared Russia had pulled off another coup – blocking closer integration of Ukraine and the EU, while pulling that country closer to his envisioned Eurasian Union, the key front in his effort to reunite in a political and economic bloc as much as possible of the former Soviet Union.
But as the Winter Olympics in Sochi come to an end today, it cannot be ignored that in his latest machinations in neighbouring Ukraine, Putin appears to have tripped up. His ally, President Yanukovych, whom he had sought to prop up with a deal to provide cheap gas and $15bn in credit, is on the ropes after unleashing lethal force last week against protesters that saw 77 killed.
Amid the drama of the last few days, and the whiff of revolution, it is worth voicing caution, however about what the future holds. Ukraine has witnessed revolutionary scenes before that failed to bring much political stability. The recent revolutions of the Arab Spring have shown that stormed palaces, packed squares, absent police and an intoxicating sense of liberation from an old guard do not necessarily deliver better political systems, at least in the short term.
What is clear is that the lacklustre support from Moscow for Yanukovych on Friday left him badly exposed, even among supporters of his own Party of Regions, opening the way for his impeachment yesterday. Following the tentative peace deal between the opposition and Yanukovych, the country's parliament delivered a series of humiliating blows to the president, who had already been forced to agree to revert to the 2004 constitution limiting presidential power.
In quick order, it approved the sacking of the interior minister who led the brutal crackdown. It ordered reparations, too, for all the injured and ordered the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister and Yanukovych's bitter rival. Among those who voted were members of Yanukovych's own party, boding ill for his prospects. By yesterday afternoon, a special plenary session of parliament had voted by a massive majority to remove Yanukovych, even as the embattled president was in the eastern city of Kharkiv, rallying his support base and accusing his opponents in a televised address of being nationalist "Nazis" responsible for a coup.
None of which makes the solving of Ukraine's problems any less acute in the months ahead. While much has been made of differences in Ukraine between its Ukrainian-speaking, largely Catholic west and its industrialised, Russian-speaking east, and between the idea that the west looks towards Europe and the east towards Moscow, Ukraine's political discontents are more complex and messy. Anger at the endemic corruption and cronyism, unaffordable gas subsidies and chronic inequalities is not confined to the west and centre. The reality is that what "pro-Europe" means in the context of Ukraine's recent political events is not necessarily a concrete or even realistic notion.
Instead, it has come to represent a convenient shorthand to encapsulate everything the Yanukovych government is not: embracing ideas such as rule of law; a fairer society where wealth is not simply appropriated by the president's inner circle including his dentist son; political freedoms and legal accountability.
It represents a rejection, too, of what was becoming an increasingly autocratic system modelled on Putin's own "illiberal democracy" – as some have called it – whose features are kleptocracy, intolerance and a crackdown on protest and freedom of expression.
It is perhaps this that was most significant in the deal and parliamentary votes last week – a widespread agreement that those features of the Ukrainian political system most like Putin's Russia should be dismantled.
All of which still leaves many risks ahead. A feature of Ukraine's crisis is how protest and violence have become part of a political bargaining process that has seen a cycle of clashes followed by negotiations, purported deals that fall apart and more violence.
Most pressing is whether the country can hold together amid declarations yesterday from political figures in both the east and the Crimea that they now represent the government's constitutional legitimacy, and calls in some quarters for the establishment of militias. Equally critical is how Ukraine's mainstream opposition will deal with a newly empowered – if small– hardline nationalist movement, not least Pravy Sektor, whose members were prominent in the fighting in Independence Square and elsewhere and which claims to have armed itself.
Another problem is one of leadership. While Tymoshenko's ordered release is to be welcomed, it should also be recalled that the two-time prime minister is a flawed figure whose relentless squabbling with her former Orange Revolution ally and President Viktor Yushchenko opened the way for Yanukovych's election in 2010.
Then there is the fundamental issue that Ukraine must negotiate: how a country that has political and trade links with both Europe and with Russia finds a balance between the two forces pulling on it from outside? While the promise of early elections is welcome, they need to be conducted in a less charged atmosphere to avoid more conflict and violence.
In part, that will depend on whether Moscow is honest and allows the country's divided electorate to determine its own future. An ominous indication of Moscow's unhappiness with the EU-negotiated deal is be found in the remarks of foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday afternoon accusing the opposition of being led by "armed extremists and pogromists" threatening the country's "sovereignty." A final question is whether Putin's stumble in Ukraine will have any ramifications for him closer to home in a Kremlin that draws lessons for Russia from the fate of the post-Soviet order in Ukraine.
Moscow will have been deeply unsettled both by the prominent role played by the troika of EU foreign ministers and by the perceived challenge to Moscow's authority in the region.
All of which, taken together, promises fraught months ahead.