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Ukraine: political sands shifting after weeks of violence

24 February 2014

AP

Aftermath: flowers cover one of the barricades leading to Independence Square, on Sunday. A destroyed trade-union building which was burned in clashes is in the right background

Aftermath: flowers cover one of the barricades leading to Independence Square, on Sunday. A destroyed trade-union building which was burned in clash...

A WARRANT has been issued by Ukraine's interior ministry for the arrest of the country's President, Victor Yanukovych, for the "mass murder of peaceful citizens" after a week of violence which resulted in 80 deaths and more than 600 injuries (News, 21 February).

The exact whereabouts of Mr Yanukovych are unknown. Some reports suggest that he is being protected by Russian marines in the Crimea region. He has refused to stand down, despite being deposed by the country's parliament at the weekend.

The Speaker of Ukraine's Parliament, Oleksandr Turchyno, has been appointed Interim President, and efforts are under way to create a government of national unity.

The protests started last November, after the pro-Russian Mr Yanukovych vetoed a Ukrainian/EU trade-deal. They culminated in a week of violence last week, in which live rounds were fired at protesters in Independence Square, in Kiev.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, told MPs on Monday that last week's violence was "the worst bloodshed in Ukraine since the fall of Communism." He said that Ukraine now had "a pressing need for constitutional reform, improvements to its political culture, free elections, an end to pervasive corruption, and the building of a stable political structure.

"We look to the new government to create the conditions for such change in a spirit of reconciliation, while ensuring accountability for human-rights violations."

Mr Hague, who will visit Kiev shortly, said that Britain's fundamental interests in the Ukraine were "democracy, human rights, and the rule of law".

Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry has accused the new leadership in Ukraine of using Friday's peace deal as a "cover for a power-grab." Russia has warned that it will raise import taxes if Ukraine signs a partnership agreement with the EU. The Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, described the "deteriorating situation" in the Ukraine as "a real threat to our interests."

Alla Gedz, a member of Christ Church Anglican church in Kiev, part of the diocese in Europe, said in a message on Saturday that the situation in Kiev was "very much peaceful" compared with the situation earlier in the week: banks had reopened, supermarkets had restocked food, and the Metro was working again.

Ms Gedz said: "Today, I can't stop crying together with mothers and relatives of those children and beloved ones who were killed." Many people had arrived in Kiev to support the victims of the violence, she said. "I'm very proud of ordinary Ukrainian people who brought medicine, food, blankets, and everything else to those who are in need."

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