Ukraine Liveblog: Day 5 — Yanukovych Topples?

February 22, 2014
Wounded protester outside Ukrainian parliament | Hamish Macdonald/ABC

The Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has reportedly fled the capital of Kiev. The people in the streets are demanding nothing less than his resignation. The question now is whether he will step down, or resist.

Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. For an overview of what’s behind the protests and analysis of today’s news see today’s new podcast. For a summary of the first 24 hours of events in Ukraine, see our translation, What Happened Overnight in Kiev and Throughout Ukraine.

Here is a livestream of the events:

Updates are below. Refresh the page, as we make regular updates:

2206 GMT: Yanukovych may have fled Kiev, and he may have tried to hide his tracks, but he did a poor job. All day, journalists and civilians have been retrieving important documents dumped in the water near his houses. However, journalists appear to have gained the upper hand. So far, we can’t say for sure what is in the documents, but short glimpses suggest that there is a paper trail of corruption, perhaps money laundering and payoffs, and at the very least extravagant payoffs to officials. But most disturbing so far have been documents that prove that he was using the government to collect information on journalists and suppress opposing viewpoints.

The veil has been thrown down, and a quick look at the efforts of these journalists shows that the Ukrainian people are dedicated to exposing the dirty truth hidden behind Yanukovych’s closed doors:


2155 GMT: The Atlantic Council’s Erik Brattberg and Maks Czuperski (who has been working closely with The Interpreter wrote an analysis for the Huffington Post in which they took a closer at Yanukovich’s flip-flop strategy he’s pursued in the last few days. The article, which was written earlier in the day, argues that it has been, in part, European Pressure that is behind every step forward that Yanukovych took this week, and without that continued pressure, Yanukovych might take another “spin” and cause even more violence.

What evidently eventually brought Yanukovych to the negotiation table was pressure in the form of sanctions and direct EU diplomatic engagement. Just because an agreement has now been signed, there is no reason to back down. Instead, the EU should continue the diplomatic pressure, immediately dispatching a quartet of special envoys to Ukraine to oversee negotiations between the two parties. If need be, a European country could also offer to provide “good offices” for meetings and negotiations between the regime and opposition leaders.

For those police officers in the streets, the opposition must encourage their defection by providing the prospect of reconciliation before Yanukovich will have drawn them beyond the point of return. This means not just encouraging them to defect, but to also switch sides into joining the Maiden self-defense unit. This way, a buffer zone between the protestors and the government forces can be achieved. Such a solution would make it much harder for either side to cast the first stone. Already police officers from the Western-minded region Lviv have joined the ranks of the protesters in the square.

Read the article here.

2127 GMT: Here is footage from earlier today in Kerch in Crimea, a town located on the western side of a narrow strait dividing Crimea from Russia.

The video shows a opposition-organised memorial for the dead, amongst those locals, which is attacked violently by government supporters. The crowd begin shouting “You’re fascists!” before pushing them from the square, roughing them up and trashing their equipment. One opposition supporter is chased down the street as men shout “banderist” at him, before savagely beating and kicking him. Towards the end, the crowd cheers as cars drive past carrying the Russian flag.

2105 GMT: Here are some excerpts from Tymoshenko’s speech at the Maidan taken from two reports on Censor.NET:

The liberation struggle will lead to the establishment of democracy in other post-Soviet countries. People who are now repressed by dictatorial and authoritarian regimes are pinning their hopes on you.

You are heroes, you are the best Ukraine has. I believe that, when snipers sent bullets into our boys’ hearts, these bullets were fired in to the hearts of each of us. And these bullets will remain in our hearts forever. If the people who did this are not held responsible, it will be a stain throughout the rest of time. Every minute, while you stood on the barricades and fell dead, I reproached myself for not being with you, that those bars prevented me from being next to you.

You have given this country to each and every one of us. The people who have been on the Maidan, who have died on the Maidan, these are heroes for the ages, these are our liberators.

2035 GMT: Christopher Miller of the Kyiv Post has just tweeted that Yanukovch’s flight to Russia was blocked by Ukrainian border services:

We’re awaiting confirmation on this, but if this is the case, it is further evidence of the organs of the state supporting the Rada against the presidency.

2015 GMT: Another interesting note on what the Russian media is doing right now:

Kiselyov is a well-established Kremlin media giant, a man who is now in charge of the largest block of Russian television and print media. Once again we see that today’s developments in Ukraine are so damaging to Russia’s propaganda and foreign policy efforts that the story is being ignored as much as possible.

2010 GMT: While Yulia Tymoshenko has been speaking, there have been many other developments:

Again, this suggests that government officials are working for the Rada, not the former President.

Russia has responded to Yulia Tymoshenko’s speech in predictable ways:

But the biggest news may be the story that, according to Obozrevatel, the “Ukrainian Front” conference will be dissolved in order to “preserve unity” and activists there will cooperate with authorities in the investigation of both the mayor of the city of Khirkiv and and governor of the region of Khirkiv, both being investigates for separatism (jump to update 1617 and other linked updates for a better understanding of how important this would be).

1953 GMT: There is a pause in the speech right now because someone is hurt. There may have been a fight. People are yelling that titushki, pro-government thugs, are in the square. There is considerable commotion down below, but it’s hard to make out what’s happening on camera.

Then they dragged these men out of the crowd:

Espreso TV   LIVE   YouTube4

titushki 2

1949 GMT:

1945 GMT:

1941 GMT:

1938 GMT: An empassioned speech from Yulia Tymoshenko. Near tears, she chants “heroes never die,” and the crowd responds by chanting her name, “Yulia, Yulia!”

yulia 2

1933 GMT: A wheelchair-bound Yulia Tymoshenko takes the stage at Maidan:


See the livestream at the top of this page for a leave feed from Maidan, where Yulia Tymoshenko is taking the stage.

1913 GMT: Another protester is remembered as the crowd chants “Slavo Ukraini,” or “Glory to Ukraine,” and “heroes do not die.”

Maidan LIVE   YouTube

1906 GMT: No fires, no fireworks, no grenads, no flares, no bullets, no thrown bricks… this is Maidan tonight as the protesters mourn the fallen protesters and await Yulia Tymoshenko.

maidan lights 3

maidan lights

maindan lights 2

The question is, how will she be received?

1858 GMT: Tymoshenko is speaking near Maidan in Kiev:


1835 GMT: Meanwhile, Russia is desperately trying to find someone in the international community to echo their sentiments towards Ukraine:

Here are Lavrov’s earlier statements, as reported by the pro-Kremlin outlet ITAR-TASS:

“The opposition has not fulfilled any obligations and it has made new demands following the actions taken by armed extremists and rioters, who posed a direct threat to sovereignty and the constitutional system of Ukraine,” Lavrov said in telephone conversations with the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France on Saturday.

And more comments:

If anyone is agreeing with Lavrov, as the Russian media claims, they haven’t said anything publicly.

1831 GMT: Yulia Tymoshenko is expected to speak to the crowds at Maidan relatviely soon, though we’re not sure when. In the meantime, she has been photographed with the other opposition leaders:


1725 GMT: More on Russian Kremlin-owned media spin on what has essentially been a disaster of development for the Russian government:

1705 GMT: This story is still unconfirmed. We’re not sure where Yanukovych is, but this report is spreading fast. It’s the same as our previous update on this topic, but with more details.

Ironically, this tweet just went out, summarizing earlier news:

1654 GMT: Russia’s FSB-linked Life News has published the first picture of Yulia Tymoshenko since her release:


1651 GMT: More speculation about where Viktor Yanukovych, the now-impeached President of Ukraine, has fled to:

This should be considered unconfirmed.

1642 GMT: Some excerpt from Klitschko’s speech (see our livestream at the top ofr video of the crowds in Maidan):

But not everything Klitschko said was popular:

1631 GMT: A child is giving a speech to Maidan right now. Days ago, all children were evacuated, and it has been a long time since I’ve seen any evidence of a child in the square. The square is filled, and there is no violence at all in Euromaidan tonight:

child in Maidan


Now Vitali Klitschko is back on the stage. He was greeted not by boos, but by cheers, and people chanting his name. And he looks proud and relieved — this is nothing like his speech last night:


1628 GMT: We hope that the protesters who have taken control of Viktor Yanukovich’s property preserve evidence like this so it can be analyzed later, but this is a remarkable piece of paper, and we’d love to know where the money went:


1617 GMT: More news on the Russian front, concerning the “Ukrainian Front” conference in Kharkiv (see previous update):

1612 GMT: BREAKING NEWS – though we’ll caution that this is unconfirmed, especially since Interfax UA has been a bit shaky today:

If true, that means that the organizers of the Yanukovych’s conference of the Ukrainian Front have fled to Russia. For more analysis on the Ukrainian Front, click here to jump to update 1446.

1608 GMT: The speaker in Euromaidan, and several sources, report that Yulia Tymoshenko is going to join the protests in Independence Square, Kiev.

1600 GMT: All Ukraine watchers are nervously looking east to see what happens with Russia. A quick glimpse at Russian Kremlin-controlled media offers some clues.

RT doesn’t say that the Rada impeached the president, but rather says they “voted for the resignation of the Ukrainian president.” Then RT offers this assessment – that the opposition has broken its promises, and that Russia and several key EU members agree:

Russia says that France, Germany and Poland, the main EU representatives throughout the Ukrainian crisis, “share its concerns” about the opposition not fulfilling the terms of the agreement signed between its leaders and Yanukovich on Friday, says a statement from the Russian foreign ministry, following Sergey Lavrov’s phone conversation with his European counterparts.

“The opposition is not only failing to comply with its obligations, but keeps making new demands, at the behest of radicals and looters who pose a threat to the constitutional order and sovereignty of Ukraine,” said a statement on the ministry’s website.

Friday’s EU-mediated deal promised a transitional government, early elections and constitutional reform, which were the primary demands of the opposition at the start of the stand-off.

There are a lot of problems here. First, the protesters did not have a voice negotiating for them with Yanukovych, and the opposition leaders signed the deal, not Yanukovych. Second, the primary demand of the Euromaidan crowd has been the joining of the European Union, and more recently the resignation of the President — these other things were what the opposition politicians could negotiate.

Most importantly, the government in Kiev crumbled only about 12 hours after the agreement was signed. The police, and the President, left Kiev long before the protesters marched on government offices.

It’s not clear that these European Union countries have echoed any of the sentiments of Russia, especially with Poland calling for Yanukovych to sign the new constitution.

1548 GMT: Many outlets are reporting that Yulia Tymoshenko is free after leaving the hospital where she has been staying.


1543 GMT: Here’s an important detail from Sevastopol, where Berkut riot police are returning home:

In other words, these officers are defeated and made no attempt to prepare for a resistance. If Yanukovych wants to fight, who will he get to fight for him? If he doesn’t want to fight, then the statement made earlier on TV is irrelevant.

Yanukovych’s statements may have been prerecorded, but he made statements that seem to have foreseen this possibility. Here’s another excerpt (we’re looking for a full transcript):

1536 GMT: What does Yanukovych have left?

1532 GMT: The leaders of the Berkut riot police have already stood down and have announced their allegiance to the protesters. However, many of the riot police are still personally loyal to the President. What happens to them next may help determine what happens in the next few hours, days, and weeks:



1520 GMT: There is now officially a constitutional crisis in Ukraine:

Here are the basics facts. The Rada (parliament), two nights ago, finally had enough members to form a quorum. At that point in time, they were legally allowed to pass new laws – and thus, they are a legitimate parliament. President has refused to recognize the Rada, and has not signed the laws. As such, the Rada has the power to pass the laws without signature.

Technically, the legal status of these laws is in question, but only temporarily. If the President does not sign the laws, they go back to the Rada. As the Rada is passing most of these votes unanimously or nearly unanimously, the Rada will win regardless.

Also, officers that this Rada has appointed have already taken office, and those officers have already begun to make decisions and act on the wishes of the Rada:

Currently, the now-former President of Ukraine has no legal status, according to the Rada. But he has also lost control on the ground. The police have evaporated, the Berkut riot police have joined the protesters, and most of the governors are working with the Rada, not the President.

The only power the President MAY have is if he can get the military to follow his orders. Short of that, he’ll need international help — from Russia — in order to regain control of the country.


The showdown begins. There are now two governments in Ukraine – the legal one, because the Rada is operating within the frameworks of the law, and the illegal one, in the now former-President of Ukraine.

1506 GMT: Poland, for one, seems to be putting its money where its mouth is, and is taking a more direct role in Ukraine now that the Rada has essentially cast Yanukovych out and Yanukovych has pitted himself against the Rada:

1455 GMT: The size and scale of Yanukovych’s wealth is becoming more readily apparent by the hour:


1452 GMT: Maks Czuperski reports:

1446 GMT: Pay attention to the language that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych used. He said that what was happening in Kiev was a coup, like the rise of Nazi Germany. The first thing to note is that the Rada is operating legally, and foreign leaders are already coming out and saying this much:

But if you look at the terminology used here, it echoes the terminology used by Russia State news outlets.

This is not a coincidence. Yanukovych is reportedly in Kharkiv, a pro-Yanukovych stronghold (or it’s supposed to be), and he’s at a conference of the “Ukrainian Front,” a collection of politicians, and pro-government street thugs, who are willing to die for the President. But as a recent article by John Schindler, on The XX Committee, points out, the Ukranian Front appears to be deeply influenced and controlled by the Russian government. In fact, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, Alexei Pushkov, is present in Kharkiv right now. Here’s what the report has to say about the nature of the Ukrainian Front:

It seems Moscow is not pleased with its protege Yanukovych and his inability to crush the opposition, so it is forming a new grouping to “assist” the hardliners. Given that the appearance of the Ukrainian Front has been heralded with a birth announcement in the Kremlin’s official newspaper, Russian approval and support can be assumed.

Moreover, the embrace of Stalinist-era rhetoric by the Ukrainian Front indicates a great deal, and will serve as a needless irritant towards Ukrainians who detest Stalin and his murderous legacy. In a similar vein, Communist activists have unveiled a bust of Stalin in Western Ukraine, a provocation that is about as offensive to most locals there as a statue of Hitler would be in the rest of Europe. Of course, hailing Stalin’s victories in the 1940′s is of a piece with the current Kremlin vilification campaign against all Ukrainians who do not want their country to be subjugated by Russia, a nasty agitprop line that regrettably has Western supporters, not all of them unwitting dupes.

Now that the Ukrainian Front has entered the picture, with Moscow’s imprimatur, expect the situation in Ukraine to only get worse. It would be difficult to overstate the danger Ukraine and Europe are in at the moment thanks to intimidation, meddling and provocation by Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. European governments would be well advised to not permit naked Russian interference of a violent and coercive sort in Ukrainian politics: this cannot end well.

And now we have rallies in Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Fleet is anchored, in favor of reuniting with Russia (jump to update 1410).

But the Ukrainian Front is not asking to be reunited with Russia. They are asking to regain control of Ukraine. To do this, however, they’ll likely have to do it by force at this point. And if the Russians are putting their full weight behind Yanukovych, and are using the Ukrainian Front as the mechanism for controlling the situation on the ground, the laughter about the zoo and the galleon could quickly be replaced by far darker sentiments in the next few days.

1426 GMT: More theater of the absurd as Ukrainians enjoy the President’s golf course and private zoo:




1410 GMT: Yanukovych supporters have also held rallies today. This one, in Sevastopol, where Russia has a naval base, is a good indication that Yanukovych still has strong support in some areas:


Of course, in other areas these rallies have reportedly not gone so well, like this one in eastern Ukraine (map):


The reality is that in many places, Yanukovych supporters may be unlikely to take to the streets to demonstrate their opinions. Before this crisis, opinion of Yanukovych was nearly split down the middle, with the anti-Yanukovych pro-European camp holding a narrow majority of public support. Perhaps the number of Yanukovych supporters has dropped due to this week’s events. But things are more divided than the jubilation in Maidan Square would make things appear.

1406 GMT: There seems to be consensus that the video of Yanukovych was pre-recorded:

1402 GMT: Confirmation – Yanukovych says he will not resign – full statements when we have them:


1357 GMT: This doesn’t look like a resignation speech to me, but this is a developing story and details are unconfirmed:


1354 GMT: The latest report from Kyiv Post, less than 10 minutes old, suggests that Yanukovych has resigned:

Ostap Semerak, an advisor to Batkivshchyna leader Arseniy Yatseniuk, confirmed to the Kyiv Post that the opposition leader had spoken to President Viktor Yanukovych, who said he had resigned.

The problem is that there is no first-hand proof that this is so. Until Yanukovych announces himself, we won’t be sure whether the President is ready to step down.

1345 GMT: Many Ukrainian citizens and journalists are taking pictures of the extravagant houses, cars, and properties owned by President Viktor Yanukovych. These buildings were previously surrounded by swarms of security, but are now abandoned. To give you a sense, this is the smallest and most tasteful of the properties we’ve seen so far:


And then there’s his not-so-humble car collection:


But then we’ll hop right into the ridiculous – the President has a galleon in one of his back yards:


Really, a galleon:


There’s a lot more, but you get the idea:

1320 GMT: Yanukovych’s already thin list just got a whole lot thinner.


The commanders also said that the Berkut were not behind shooting protesters.

1310 GMT: The news that Yanukovych will resign is still a rumor, but here is where it came from:

It’s also a rumor which has reached Maidan Square:

1306 GMT: Regardless of the mistake that the AP made earlier about whether Yulia Tymoshenko has already been released, she is scheduled to be released, and her spokespeople and family members say that she will soon be free. That is the key news, and it is being welcomed by the Ukrainian oppoisition:


1259 GMT: More news from the Kharkiv conference of the “Ukrainian Front” where Yanukovych supporters are rallying:

The link contains a video of one of the speakers. Here’s a picture of the conference:


1254 GMT: As we said earlier, the claims that Yanukovych has resigned were unconfirmed, but they were spreading across Twitter quickly. Now those claims are being stepped back.

1250 GMT: The Associated Press ran not one but two separate tweets confirming that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released. They also published an article to that effect. Now they are withdrawing the statement:

Thanks to the AP, we have to issue our first retracted story in five straight days of liveblogging.

1245 GMT: Several reports indicate President Yanukovych has resigned. This is a developing and unconfirmed story:

1242 GMT: Some documents reportedly found in one of Yanukovych’s homes (see previous update)


1237 GMT: When world leaders fall, their bathrooms tend to get a lot of attention:

In serious news, however, people are now moving through Yanukovych’s property, and have been posting pictures of some documents that he tried to destroy before he fled Kiev. Kyiv Post reports that some of the documents reportedly contain some scandalous information:

On his way out of Mezhyhyria this morning, President Viktor Yanukovych evidently tried to get rid of a lot of documents kept at the luxurious estate. Opposition leaders who are now in control of the mansion say they fished documents out of the Kyiv Sea that leads to the Dnipro River and are drying them in a hangar. Some of them reportedly involve journalist Tetyana Chornovol, who blames Yanukovych for ordering her Dec. 25 beating in retaliation for her investigative reports of his alleged corruption. The treasure trove also reportedly includes expense invoices for construction work at Mezhyhyria, a blacklist of journalists and a list of license plate number of cars that Chornovol drives

1228 GMT: A good question:

In fact, there were large protests in Kharkiv last night and this morning. Even in the east, the people are hardly completely supportive of Yanukovych.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, Alexei Pushkov, is gathered with Yanukovych supporters and has this commentary on the situation in Ukraine and the conference in Kharkiv – RFE/RL translates:

“At the meeting in Karkhiv, there is not an ounce of separatism. The main theme in speeches: ‘We aren’t preparing to split the country, but to preserve it.'”

1223 GMT: The AP is now confirming than Tymoshenko is free, according to her spokeswoman:

Natasha Lysova told The Associated Press that Tymoshenko was released from her prison in Kharkiv on Saturday. She did not have further details.

1217 GMT: The “Ukrainian Front” conference is supposed to be a gathering of Yanukovych’s key supporters. But the Ukranian Front is not just a political organization, it is a paramilitary one, where various forms of “muscle” have organized in regions across the country. This conference has become extremely pro-Russian, but interestingly, they are not talking about separatism — rather, they are stating that they are the rightful rulers of Ukraine, and what is happening in Kiev is illegitimate:

In some ways this could be the more violent opinion, even more violent than separatism. If Yanukovych is gathering his supporters in Eastern Russia, and they set their hearts on retaking Kiev, they’ll have to use unparalleled levels of force in order to do it.

1211 GMT: Now there are reports that Yulia Tymoshenko is out of prison:

1147 GMT: The Rada is effectively in charge of the country today, and they are making historic decisions:

1143 GMT: The people speaking at the conference in Kharkiv may say they are not endorsing separatism, but you would not know it from hearing some of the speakers:


This hardline conference in Kharkiv is being led by some of the happiest people on earth (if my sarcasm does not come through, watch the video – warning, the language is very crude):

1134 GMT: It may be less impressive to look at, but what’s happening on the floor of the Rada may be even more important than what’s happening on the streets. Some critics have already pointed out that the Rada is effectively changing the country back to where it was in 2004. This criticism hasn’t escaped the Rada’s attention, it seems, though. Here’s Kyiv Post’s latest summary:

In another sign of how the nation is changing power, 314 out of 450 lawmakers voted to elect Batkivshchyna Party opposition leader Oleksandr Turchynov as acting prime minister. Serhiy Tigipko, a member of parliament who defected from the pro-President Viktor Yanukovych Party of Regions, says the appointment of interior minister should await decision by a new parliamentary majority. Yuriy Miroshnychenko, Yanukovych’s representative in parliament, warned Ukraine is in danger of creating parallel power structures.

And some observations that are not yet in their report:

The Rada has also approved the 2004 Constitution without Yanukovych’s signature, as he is not in Kiev to sign one way or the other.

1127 GMT: RFE/RL is monitoring events in Kharkiv (jump to summary at update 1110), where speakers have compared Maidan’s taking of Kiev to Nazis trying to occupy Moscow during World War II. Here’s their summary:

The meeting in opposition to ‘Maidan’ is now taking place in Kharkiv. Speakers calling events today in Kyiv tantamount to “fascism.” However, they say they are not advocating separatism.

1122 GMT: Just tuning into the Ukraine crisis? Our podcasts are designed to be a guide to beginners, but we also have a lot of analysis into what happened yesterday in Ukraine, what Russia’s role in this crisis is, and what may happen next. You can either listen below or click here to listen in a new browser tab and see the links to our other podcasts:

1118 GMT: Opposition politician Vitali Klitschko is speaking to reporters in the Rada. He looks much more relaxed than he did last night when he was effectively booed off the stage in Maidan:


1110 GMT: This is probably where Yanukovych is today, in Khakiv, at the Congress of the “Ukrainian Front,” a group of political – but also physical and military/paramilitary supporters of the president. The conference is being organised by the Kharkiv governor, Mikhail Dobkin. There are several problems with this. Ukraine’s security forces (SBU) have opened criminal investigations into both the governor of Kharkiv Oblast and the mayor of Kharkiv city — on suspicion of separatism. The Russian slogans and Russian symbols are a sign that those suspicions may be founded:


So did Yanukovych go the Kharkiv to save his own skin, to plan to retake Ukraine by force, or to split the country and merge the eastern provinces with Russia?

1105 GMT: where is President Yanukovych? The Rada wants to know as much as we do. This report from Kyiv Post:

Rostislav Pavlenko of Vitali Klitschko’s opposition Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party says that parliament has requested information from Ukra-aero-rukh, the nation’s air traffic regulator, on the whereabouts of President Viktor Yanukovych and await response. Parliament is also preparing to vote for a constitutional act that would enact 2004 constitution now, regardless of presidential signature. after that they will proceed to appoint cabinet, particularly law enforcers.

1058 GMT: This is Maidan today. No fire. No bullets. No clashes. No blood. No tension…. but almost no people. Where did they all go?

maidan almost empty

Well, they’re everywhere else, and we’re assuming Yanukovych has very large bathtubs:


Another picture to drive home how historically different today:


1052 GMT: Besides President Yanukovych, the two most hated people in this administration were the Interior Minister and the Prosecutor General, two officials who were seen as being directly responsible for the violent and deadly crackdown on protesters. Yesterday the Rada fired them both. Now, RFE/RL reports that the Interior Ministry has released a statement effectively endorsing the protesters:

“In this difficult moment in the modern history of Ukraine, the personnel of the Interior Ministry emphasize that it is fully with the Ukrainian people and completely shares the desire of citizens to change as soon as possible,” the statement says.

“The police call for joint efforts to ensure public order”

“Unite our forces in the creation of a truly independent and democratic European state.”

Yesterday, Ukraine’s parliament voted to fire Vitali Zakharchenko, who is said to have ordered police actions that left some 70 protesters dead. He has reportedly left the country.

A European state? The language stops short of outright endorsing membership of the European Union, but there’s no other way to read that in this context.

Meanwhile, the most under-covered story of this entire uprising is arguably that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs endorsed joining the EU three days ago now — the first real sign that Yanukovych’s power was collapsing.

1038 GMT: The streets are literally absent of police. Protesters appear to have seized every inch of the city of Kiev, and now stand guard in front of the government buildings. One thing is clear — Yanukovych is gone.


It’s not just Kiev. Much of western Ukraine is now essentially under independent government:

Yanukovych may have taken a vacation day, but the Ukrainian Rada, their parliament, is working very hard. They have just appointed a new Speaker of the Rada:

Tymoshenko, you might remember, is the opposition leader and ousted former Prime Minister who has been in prison since Yanukovych’s second rise to the presidency.

This is also important because the agreement that Yanukovych agreed to yesterday said that he would return to the 2004 constitution, passed after the Orange Revolution. That constitution gave significantly more power to the parliament, and it was passed yesterday by the Rada. It does, however, need to be signed by the President, or the process is delayed. With protesters in control of the city, this may seem academic, but what is important is that the moral and legal authority sits with the Rada, who are being viewed as leaders who have not fled this crisis but are actively trying to fix it.

1030 GMT: The President is nowhere to be found, and the people are taking control of the streets — and government buildings — in Kiev:


So far it appears that they are meeting zero resistance:

Yesterday, the opposition leadership signed a deal with Yanukovych that would see him gone by the end of the day.


But that deal, and this handshake between Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, got the opposition leaders booed off stage last night in Maidan. As the protesters gathered by the many thousands to mourn their dead, martyrs in what can be called nothing less than a revolution at this point, there was no mood to compromise with their accused murderer.

Watch this clip of the funeral, recorded just minutes after Klitschko left the stage with his head hung low, and you’ll understand the mindset of Maidan:

Yesterday’s liveblog was titled “Yanukovych Teeters.” Will today be the day he topples? The question is simple — if Yanukovych resigns, this country begins to heal today. With (unconfirmed) reports that he has fled to Kharkiv to gather his forces and strike, however, there are many other very dark possibilities.