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In view of the fast changing events, I have changed the title from "Power Vacuum in Ukraine - Regime Change?". The first part of the diary was written before this event.

The Ukrainian President has abandoned his offices and is reported to have left the capital Kyiv (Kiev).  All police, including the riot police, have left the streets. The presidential offices are under the control of the Maiden protestors. The jailed opposition leader and former President Yulia Tymoshenko is expected to released from prison on the orders of Parliament. The Speaker of Parliament has resigned citing "ill health" and has been replaced by a pro-opposition MP. A new transitional government is being formed.

In one of latest tweets (@12.40 GMT) from a BBC correspondent in Maiden Square:

Daniel Sandford ‏@BBCDanielS  
Crowd on the Maidan cheering at the (unconfirmed) news that President Yanukovich has resigned. Hard to confirm at the moment
(In view of the rapidly moving events, the above is a precis of reporting on BBC News, Al Jazeera English and Sky News broadcasts. So far I have not checked on the reporting on RT however one contact for Sky News suggests Putin is adopting a "wait and see" policy.)

President Dismissed BBC posted 15:32 GMT:

Ukrainian MPs have voted to oust President Yanukovych and hold early presidential elections on 25 May.

The vote came barely an hour after Mr Yanukovych said in a televised address that he would not resign.

Protesters have walked unchallenged into the president's office and residential compounds

President Yanukovich is believed to be in or headed for his retreat in the eastern city of Kharkiv. This is in a strongly pro-Russian region and is also the location of the prison where Yulia Tymoshenko is held. That raises two possibilities - either she could be held as a hostage or participate in joint talks. Note though, from the commentary on the BBC live page:

12:17: Leaders of predominantly Russian-speaking regions in south-eastern Ukraine and Crimea have challenged the legitimacy of the national parliament in Kiev. At a meeting in Kharkiv, regional leaders said they were "taking all the powers into their hands" until the "constitutional order" is "guaranteed" in Kiev

5:17 AM PT: Am dipping into coverage from Russia Today (the Russian state broadcaster's news channel). The used the strap line "A Fractured Future". Analysist from Moscow State University emphasizing Russian line that the Maiden Square protesters ("Maiden Mobs") are all right wing motivated. Claims three main opposition leaders incapable of governing.

Another analysist: there is a power vacuum - strong differences between Maiden and three main leaders.

Section on coverage finishes with stock footage of security forces (only) under attack and  "KIEV- ANARCHY REIGNS" emblazoned at the end

5:25 AM PT: From Sky News: AFP reporting that one of their correspondents has been told by "a lawmaker" that President Yanukovych has "promised to resign".

5:56 AM PT: From Al Jazeera English:

The president's ruling Regions Party that had previously pushed Ukraine closer toward Russia was also standing in disarray Saturday amid mass defections by lawmakers to opposition ranks.

On air reporting that others have resigned as did the previous Speaker of parliament who cited "ill health".

6:40 AM PT: Apologies, had to reboot (Windows strikes again!)

Latest is that Yanukovych has appeared on state TV in a pre-recorded broadcast insisting he will not resign (immediately presumably as he is insisting on the Friday agreement brokered by 3 EU Foreign Minsters) and is not leaving the country.

He is likely in the same city where a meeting of the eastern regions have declared they will not recognize the decisions of Parliament and have taken local control.

6:51 AM PT: Ukraine win gold medal in women's biathalon at the Sochi Olympics.

From Sky News:

Russian Foreign Minister statement: Ukrainian opposition has failed to deliver on the deal (reached yesterday) and is led by armed extremists whose actions are posing a direct threat to the country's sovereignty Constitutional order.

7:10 AM PT: Russian Today top of the hour headlines (still using on-screen headline "FRACTURED FUTURE":

"Ukraine's President condemning what he calls "a coup" and defies calls for him to step down, he is now in the east of the country where local authorities say they are taking control of their regions"

"In Kiev, the opposition now dominating Parliament [shows fights on the floor of Parliament which will tie into earlier statements coming from the East that the previous Speaker had been beaten up after leaving] rules that former Prime Minister Tymoshenko must be released from jail as police reportedly join the uprising."

"European mediators that helped broker a crisis deal for Ukraine say that the opposition has failed to comply with its terms and Russia is urging the EU to reign in the radicals".

(Transcription of the broadcast by me to give flavor of Russian coverage)

7:34 AM PT: Parliament has dismissed President Yanukovych by a majority of 328 votes (no exact figures available).. New elections will be held on May 25. New Defense Minister appointed (former one said to have fled)

In at least three towns outside Kiev, statues of Lenin have been toppled.

7:58 AM PT: Sky News:

Confirmation that Tymoshenko has been released.

8:19 AM PT: France 24 has just had this headline on their web site:

"Government announces 'anti-terrorist' operation across Ukraine"

More when this becomes clearer as the main four police forces in Kiev have declared allegiance to the interim administration i.e. Parliament.

8:23 AM PT: From the BBC live page:

16:13: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague issues a statement on developments in Ukraine: "Today I am in close touch with key partners over the extraordinary developments in Ukraine. Events in the last 24 hours show the will of Ukrainians to move towards a different future, and ensure that the voices of those who have protested courageously over several months are heard. "

"We will work closely with our EU partners in support of a new government in Ukraine, as and when that is formed. In the meantime it is important that Ukraine's political leaders respond to events calmly and with determination to harness the united efforts of all Ukrainians to work together for a successful future."

8:39 AM PT: BBC showing pictures of Yulia Tymoshenko's convoy being mobbed by supporters on her release from prison. She comments "dictatorship has fallen". Also from BBC live feed page:

16:34: Here's the announcement of the removal of President Yanukovych, made by newly-appointed Ukraine parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov: "Taking into account that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych removed himself from fulfilling his constitutional duties, which threatens the governability of the state, Ukraine's territorial integrity and independence and leads to mass violation of the rights and freedoms of the citizens; given the circumstances of utter emergency, the Supreme Council of Ukraine, expressing the sovereign will of the Ukrainian people, decree the following. First, to establish that President Viktor Yanukovych has in an unconstitutional way removed himself from fulfilling his constitutional duties and fails to fulfil his duties. Second, in line with Clause 7 of Part 1 of Article 85 of the Ukrainian constitution, schedule an early presidential election for 25 May 2014. Third, this resolution comes into effect as soon as it is passed."

8:46 AM PT: Tweets from inside Yanokovych's residence (google translate used):

War Party @ gruppa_voina  9m
In Mezhigorie found cozy released on issuance of $ 12 million in cash / SGsFKksndc

(The photo appears to be a check or order to issue this amount)

Her other tweet shows his "throne".

8:48 AM PT: Whoops.

FRANCE 24:  Apologies, it appears that the picture of the extravagant toilet does not belong to Yanukovich. The picture has been removed.

8:51 AM PT: From the Ukrainian Interfax agency:

Kharkiv Mayor Hennadiy Kernes and Head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration Mykhailo Dobkin have fled Ukraine through the Hoptivka international crossing point on the Ukrainian-Russian border in Kharkiv region, Natalia Stativko, the spokesperson for acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, said.

"Mr. Dobkin and Mr. Kernes have left Ukraine via Hoptivka," she told reporters in Kharkiv on Saturday.

9:25 AM PT: From the BBC live feed page:

16:59: Ukraine's new parliamentary speaker was quoted as saying President Viktor Yanukovych had tried to board a plane to Russia but had been prevented from doing so and was now in the Donetsk region. "He tried to get on a plane to Russia but border officials stopped him," Interfax news agency quoted Oleksander Turchynov, an opponent of Yanukovych, as saying. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

9:43 AM PT: BBC News has just reported that Yulia Tymoshenko has arrived in Kiev.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (22+ / 0-)

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 04:49:01 AM PST

  •  War? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peacestpete, FarWestGirl

    Saw an article last night, that indicates Putin will not accept the overthrow of the current leadership.  Worried that ethnic Russians will form a "new" country based out of eastern Ukraine - keeping Crimean penninsula under effective Russian control.  The Russians have a massive naval base there and it is their sole access to the Black Sea and the Med.  Article indicated with ethnic tensions running high and a real possibility of Russian trops getting involved this could turn into a long running bloody war.

  •  Hmmm. The timing is propitious: Putin can't do (8+ / 0-)

    anything but "take a wait and see attitude" because of the Olympics.  The 0ptics of an intervention would be too difficult to manage, even if he took his shirt off.

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

    by nailbender on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 04:58:55 AM PST

  •  Why does Victoria Nuland still have a job? (4+ / 0-)

    I mean really.  Her strategy failed, and she managed to piss off both Merkel and Putin.  
    Astonishing she hasn't been replaced.

    •  She didn't piss off Putin, she pissed off the (5+ / 0-)

      opposition which she and Pyatt, in their tapped and youtubed phone call, were playing like puppeteers, determining who should be in and who should be out of any power sharing agreement.

      She still has a job because they haven't fired her.  She's the wife of a cofounder of PNAC and the conversation that got plastered all over the web was right out of the PNAC playbook, including the "Fuck the EU" comment she made.

      She still has a job because either Kerry and Obama are clueless, gutless, or complicit with the neocons.

      Take your pick.

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

      by nailbender on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 05:09:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Clueless, gutless, or feckless." Sounds better. (5+ / 0-)


        "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

        by nailbender on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 05:13:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would say (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dallasdoc, peacestpete, FarWestGirl

          ideologically constrained, she can't see the larger picture because of her NeoCon world view.  The world simply fails to comply to her distorted vision of it, and she is baffled by that.
          Regardless, Obama can do better, would have been a strong signal if he sacked her after the gaffe.

          She pissed of Merkel by trying to block Germany's horse in the race, Klitschko, and put our pick at the head.  The former FM during Bush era.   He ran for the top spot twice and was popularly rejected, but is the choice of the PNAC crowd.

          Simply dumb.  

          •  She pissed off the EU by saying "Fuck the EU," (4+ / 0-)

            which was an indirect way of saying "Fuck Lady Ashton" who pretty much single handedly brought the Iran nuclear negotations back from the dead despite Kerry's clueless and/or feckless attempts.  And the neocons are in a complete lather about that and Ashton is totally to blame for them and the Likud not having a pretext for bombing Iran.  

            Not only that, Pyatt, the US Ambassador to Ukraine, is totally in bed with her philosophically, if not otherwise (there are pics on the web of them strolling arm and arm like lovers down some Strasse somewhere).  

            The US, as a result of her meddling (and idiotic use of insecure communications which resulted in whoever being able to tap the line) is not just out of the picture in Ukraine but in the whole EU right now, decision making-wise.  This is on the heels, ironically, of the Merkel surveillance scandal that Snowden's docs revealed, and until the US has real potential partners with the EU as POTUS and SoS, US interests will not just be ignored, they will be degraded.

            And Hillary does not fit that bill. You're right that she got Nuland in the position she is in now, and if you look at  Nuland's former post and how she got that, it's even more disturbing.

            "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

            by nailbender on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 06:07:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Nuland has been pissing off Putin for years (5+ / 0-)

        She worked for Clinton for a while, then she was Cheney's foreign policy aide, then Ambassador to NATO, then HRCs spokesman.  Why did HRC do that?   Then HRC got her nominated for Eurasia asst sec'y.
        The whole thing stinks.  

        •  House of Cards or Game of Thrones (8+ / 0-)

          Take your pick.
          Washington is a curious place of intrigue and hidden ties.

          ...given Nuland’s ties to GOP circles – her husband is Brookings foreign policy scholar and Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan, and she previously served as an adviser to Cheney —

          Although definitive conclusions about Nuland can’t fairly be drawn from her choice of spouses, it’s not entirely irrelevant that her husband is a founding member of the Project for a New American Century and a board member of PNAC’s recent attempt at rebranding, the Foreign Policy Initiative.  In short, he’s a Washington player who aims to move administration policy further away from the promises of candidate Obama. Are we to believe that a household firewall will keep every bit of confidential Obama administration information in Nuland’s brain from coming to Kagan’s attention?  Obviously, Washington is an incestuous place, and there are precedents for such household conflicts of interest, but this one would be less disturbing if there were more reason to believe that former Cheney aide Nuland really had the administration’s interests at heart.  

          If cats could blog, they wouldn't

          by crystal eyes on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 06:36:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  It seems to me that most of the reports about (8+ / 0-)

    and analyses of the situation in the Ukraine are not paying attention to what may be the most important divide in the country:

    While older Ukrainians are more supportive of close ties with Russia, younger Ukrainians strongly support closer ties with the E.U.

    This shouldn't really be a huge surprise since younger Ukrainians tend to be more interconnected with the rest of the world and were not indoctrinated by the Soviet system.

    The generational divide likely is a greater factor than the regional divide.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 05:43:59 AM PST

    •  Also (8+ / 0-)

      Russian propaganda has been pushing heavily the involvement of (a small number) of ultra-right wing party members in the protests and the parliamentary opposition (now the de facto government of Kiev). This has naturally raised fears in the older members of the ethnic Russian minority.

      The eastern part is also the more industrialized and the factories are set up to produce goods for export to Russia. In part they favor the neo-COMECOM customs area proposed by Putin as this will not involve re-organizing the production to conform with the much more stringent EU standards.

      "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 05:52:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The ultra-nationalists are not a small minority (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        anymore. They have been at the forefront of the protests and have been largely responsible for instigating much of the violence. You may want to investigate exactly what Svoboda is.

        Svoboda: The rise of Ukraine's ultra-nationalists

        Ukraine's ultra-nationalist party, Svoboda, was a shock winner in October's parliamentary election, capturing 10% of the vote and entering the legislature for the first time. How radical is it?
        The party has tapped a vast reservoir of protest votes. In a political landscape where all other parties are seen as corrupt, weak or anti-democratic - or all three - Svoboda seems to have attracted voters who would otherwise have stayed away from the polls altogether. Its strong anti-corruption stance - promising to "clean up" Ukraine - has resonated deeply.
            "Svoboda" means "freedom"

            Founded in 1991 as Social-National party

            Fourth largest party in new parliament, with 37 out of 450 deputies

            Share of the vote grew by factor of 14 between 2007 and 2012 elections

            Won 30-40% of vote in three western regions in 2012 - and about 1% in three eastern regions

            A member of the Alliance of European National Movements, along with France's National Front, the British National Party and Hungary's Jobbik

        Profile: Ukraine's key protest figures

        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.
        In the early days of the protests in Kiev, the most radical activists on Independence Square created the Right Sector movement, which have taken an active part in violent clashes with police.

        The group consists mostly of young men with right-wing views. They come from different regions of Ukraine, and there are both Ukrainian and Russian-speaking people among them.

        The members often wear masks, helmets and protection for their hands and feet, and carry sticks or iron bars in case of confrontation with riot police.

        Unlike other protesters, most of the Right Sector activists do not support the idea of joining the EU, which they consider to be an "oppressor of European nations".

        The organisation believes the current situation is an opportunity "to destroy the state skeleton" and start building a new state.

        The Right Sector does not associate itself with the nationalist Svoboda, which it considers to be too liberal and conformist.

  •  LA Times has a good report (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AJayne, Dallasdoc, Lawrence


    It appears tome that the Ukraine is in for a long period of instability that won't end until Putin is gone. Ukraine could succeed as a trading and agricultural center between the EU and Russia - a middle ground - but that won't happen as long as there's pressure from Russia and the EU to take sides. The cold war Soviet era politics needs to end, but that won't happen until Putin is gone.

    “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

    by FishOutofWater on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 07:03:26 AM PST

  •  Let's see (0+ / 0-)

    If her coalition with the Svoboda party reforms.  Maybe we will interfere-

  •  This is a good development. The military (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AJayne, jan4insight, FG, cocinero, peacestpete

    has said it will not support violence against the citizenry. Putin will have a hard time imposing his will without the Ukrainian military's and police's cooperation. This is an age old issue about whether Ukraine should lean Europe or Russia.  The people of Ukraine don't want Putin and his perceived puppets to have too much control over their lives, especially when disagreement is met with violence.  Let the Ukrainian people decide their path in a free and fair election.

    Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit

    by khyber900 on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 09:22:39 AM PST

    •  The US has pumped 50 billion into the Ukraine (0+ / 0-)

      since the breakup of the Soviet Union in an attempt to influence/control the political leadership. The US wants the Ukraine to join NATO and will not stop meddling in the affairs of that country until this is accomplished. Joining the EU market is the first step.

      It's a continuation of the "Great Game".

  •  Reading a lot of your comments on other diaries (0+ / 0-)

    Why are you so enthusiastic about the overthrow of an elected government?  Has it occurred to you that most people on this site are a good deal further to the left than the UK's Lib Dems?

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:18:47 PM PST

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