Ukraine Liveblog Day 103: Poroshenko Vows To Punish Rebels

May 31, 2014
Smoke rises after a Ukrainian helicopter crashed, shot down by rebels on May 30 near Slavyansk | Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

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Maidan’s Barricades Are Removed, But Not All Are Happy

Today, Kiev authorities began to remove the barricades from Maidan Square, the center of the pro-EU oppositions revolution against the Yanukovych government. But not everybody is happy about it. 

Earlier in the week, Kiev’s mayor-elect and Euromaidan politician Vitali Klitschko said it was time for the barricades to come down. The Washingtron Post reports:

“The barricades have fulfilled their function, and they must be dismantled,” Klitschko told reporters in Kiev this week. “Kiev must gradually return to everyday life and concentrate its efforts in that direction, while we are doing reforms, so that they are made as quickly as possible.”

But many here in the square — also known as the Maidan — say they won’t leave until they know that Ukraine’s new leaders will bring real change to the country. Some of the civil society groups that led the original protests counter that the time has come to build a memorial on the square, along with, perhaps, a forum for public debate, but otherwise to pull back and return some measure of ordinary life to central Kiev.

“I’m going to stay here until the system has changed,” said Alexander Fedonyuk, 47, an out-of-work construction worker who on Thursday was sitting on a plastic porch chair in front of a faded-green military tent where three puppies playfully nipped each other. A pile of Soviet-era gas masks sat in a big cardboard box on the pavement. “The courts are the same,” he said. “It’s too early to say whether there’s a difference.”

Today the process of removing the barricades began, but some in the square have resisted. RFE/RL’s liveblog provides several of the tweets below:

Poroshenko Vows to Avenge Helicopter Deaths

14 Ukrainian soldiers, including a general, were killed yesterday when their helicopter was shot down by Russian-backed separatists near Slavyansk. Today, President-elect Petro Poroshenko has vowed to bring those rebels to justice:

“We have to do everything we can to ensure no more Ukrainians die at the hands of terrorists and bandits,” said Poroshenko, according to Ukrainian news agencies. “These criminal acts by the enemies of the Ukrainian people will not go unpunished.”

The Ukrainian defence minister, Mykhailo Koval, is due to give details on the attack at a press briefing on Friday.