Yanukovich declares protests a coup after fleeing capital; parliament demands his resignation

posted at 11:31 am on February 22, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev yesterday — and apparently so did much of his security force and perhaps even his ministers. The police in Kyiv have switched sides, now claiming that they serve the people and not the Yanukovich government. Protesters who spent weeks bottled up in Independence Square have now taken control of the capital of Ukraine, while the Ukrainian parliament struggles to keep the country from splitting in two:

Protesters took control of Ukraine’s capital on Saturday, seizing the president’s office as parliament sought to oust him and form a new government. An aide to President Viktor Yanukovych said he had left Kiev for his support base in the country’s Russian-speaking east, but that he has no intention of abandoning power.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports from Kiev that the ministry that controls the police force said it now serves the Ukrainian people and shares their desire for speedy change.

In a special parliament session, lawmakers warned that the country risks being split in two. The country’s western regions want to be closer to the EU and have rejected Yanukovych’s authority in many cities, while eastern Ukraine – which accounts for the bulk of the nation’s economic output – favors closer ties with Russia.

The parliament may want to prevent a split, but they’re not sitting on their hands, either. They have called for elections on May 25, seven months earlier than the agreement between Euromaidan and the Yanukovich government. That has the potential to split the country even further, if the eastern provinces remain loyal to Yanukovich. They also demanded Yanukovich’s resignation:

CNN wondered earlier what happened to the president. His departure from Kyiv was so abrupt and complete that even his opulent residence was left completely unguarded:

Yanukovich ended up in Kharkiv, where he gave a televised address claiming to be the victim of a coup:

“Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and bandits and a coup d’etat,” Yanukovych said in a televised statement, clearly shaken and making long pauses in his speech.

He said decisions made by parliament Friday and Saturday “are all illegal” and compared the situation to the rise of Nazis in the 1930s. He said he would not sign any of the measures passed by parliament, which include trimming his powers and releasing his jailed arch-rival, ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The president said his car had been shot at, adding: “But I have no fear. I am overwhelmed by grief for our country. I feel responsibility.”

The eastern provinces want to call up volunteer militias to reinstate Yanukovich:

The president was in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where governors, provincial officials and legislators gathered alongside top Russian lawmakers and approved a statement calling on regional authorities to take full responsibility for constitutional order.

Some called for the formation of volunteer militias to defend against protesters from western regions, even as they urged army units to maintain neutrality and protect ammunition depots.

If they’re looking for help from the army, they will be sorely disappointed. The military in Ukraine insists that they will remain neutral in the political fight:

And as if all this wasn’t enough, reports this morning say that Yulia Tymoshenko has been released from prison:

That will fuel the opposition’s passion and perhaps Yanukovich’s supporters as well. How long before Yanukovich gets desperate enough to call for Russian tanks to reinstall him in Kyiv? We’ll see, but the Olympics will finish tomorrow. After that, all bets are off.

Update: Lenta reports that the governor of the Kharkiv region and the mayor of Kharkiv proper have both fled to Russia (via Julia Ioffe). Maybe Yanukovich’s support in the eastern part of Ukraine isn’t as robust as he’d like to think.


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I think this is where I’m suppose to say Bmore?

NiteOwl on February 22, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Ooops….1 to late.

NiteOwl on February 22, 2014 at 10:59 PM

I don’t really know how else to say it. I showed you a map which indicates “native” speakers not just those who speak Russian, but you say that it is “irrelevant”. So if that is irrelevant in your mind than there is nothing more I can say. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Other than that I only have antidotal evidence from relatives on the ground in Sevastopol. Sevastopol is organizing resistance against Kiev at this time. That I know to be true.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 9:54 PM

Tough to argue with such poorly educated idiots, even when direct links are posted that contradict their limited ability to think for themselves, much easier to them to regurgitate leftist media propaganda. And here we all thought that Soviet era brain washing was dead when, in fact, it is doing so well in USA.

On another note, visited Yalta, Alushta and Simferopol in Crimea, one of my aunts was born in Bakhchisaray and my mother then family lived in Simferopol, before my birth. Beautiful place with great beaches and food. Sevastopol was a closed city back in Soviet Days due to naval base there, so had no chance to visit it then.

Interesting reports from Ukraine’s military stating they are “in support of people but will keep neutral”. Hmmm… Like saying, “We are on people’s side just until we are not”. No way in hell they will fire on Russian troops, they will be annihilated. Interesting to see that both Putin and Medvedev were so visible in Sochi just until 2 days ago.

riddick on February 22, 2014 at 11:06 PM

As a US citizen, you can visit Ukraine up to 90 days without a visa. Not sure how new this privilege is, so it may be more recent than you wanted to go.

That is new to me. I doubt that it applies in the current situation, but I will check. Thanks for the information.

We were at the Ukrainian Embassy in San Francisco last year – a one man office above a beauty parlor, no kidding – my wife had to communicate with the “ambassador” in English because he didn’t speak Russian and she doesn’t speak Ukrainian even though she is required to have a Ukrainian passport. Anyway, she left her passport for renewal and we still have not received a reply. Over a year now and her Ukrainian passport is somewhere in limbo. I don’t know what good it will do, but we’ll probably go back up to SFO and try to find out the status.

Were you on a cruise ship? Sometimes visas on cruise ships are different from just applying for a visa.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:07 PM

Ha ha ha… Hal you’re dead! Great joke on me… heheh… cracks me up. I was thinking you had to be damn old… LOL… I’m such an idiot! :-)

NiteOwl on February 22, 2014 at 11:10 PM

Interesting reports from Ukraine’s military stating they are “in support of people but will keep neutral”. Hmmm… Like saying, “We are on people’s side just until we are not”. No way in hell they will fire on Russian troops, they will be annihilated. Interesting to see that both Putin and Medvedev were so visible in Sochi just until 2 days ago.

riddick on February 22, 2014 at 11:06 PM

I agree. What will Ukraine’s military do? They’ll have to make a decision soon. They cannot stay on the fence for much longer. I hope you’re right about “No way in hell they fire on Russian troops” because if they do all hell will break loose. The body count in Kiev will look inconsequential.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:14 PM

Realizing they are changing one government for another I find one thing interesting in today’s events. While the current government runs/resigns and the badged authorities stand down anarchy rules, so to speak. Contrary to the standard media line concerning anarchy and the chaos which ensues, Kiev seems to paint a different picture. The protesters who now stand unopposed by badged authorities are protecting the government buildings and offices from destruction of their own accord. Wait, this is not supposed to happen according to the mass media. They should be destroying everything in sight without the uniformed goon squads to keep the minions in line.

Goes against the common thread of anarchy/chaos without government control. Interesting don’t you think?

usarmyretired on February 22, 2014 at 11:18 PM

Were you on a cruise ship? Sometimes visas on cruise ships are different from just applying for a visa.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:07 PM

We started off an a cruise ship (to Yalta via Istanbul), but then stayed and traveled on land. That may have something to do with the ease of travel. It was a pre-arranged group tour through an agency, so I am sure there was paperwork behind the scenes. I do know I did not have to send in my passport. I’d be too nervous to do that.

oceansidecon on February 22, 2014 at 11:18 PM

Kaffa,

Things are getting way deeper and faster than you posted. There was a large meetings of deputies from Eastern and Southern Ukraine today with Yanukivich to discuss a new state, with guarantor of security being Russia:

Первоначальный план предусматривал выступление Виктора Януковича на съезде, провозглашение новой республики юго-востока и отделении от Украины. Гарантом безопасности новой республики должен был выступить российский президент Владимир Путин, который должен был официально поддержать новое государство и ввести ограниченный военный контингент для защиты республики.

Sounds like those troops securing Sochi now will be transported to Ukraine in short order and then beefed up further. And beefed up further by Ukrainian military once this happens.

Should be interesting how Western Ukraine is dealt with by Russia. No money and most likely no gas and oil. And no imports of any kind to Russia. So, maybe Russia will “appease” the West and let Western Ukraine starve itself, this way Russia can say, CORRECTLY SO, that people have spoken and decided where they want to live. Nazis to the left (bank of Kiev), non-Nazis to the right. EU then cannot really say anything since they are “for freedom of choice”, right?

riddick on February 22, 2014 at 11:21 PM

The ethnic Russian populations of Ukraine is really unimportant. The ethnic population of Crimea is important (~80%). It is the ethnic Russian population in Crimea which will fight for independence from Ukraine whether it be as a separate country or as part of Russia.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 9:54 PM

Wrong. I don’t get why you Russians feel the need to make up statistics.
The ethnic Russia population in Crimea is not “~80%”. It is barely above 50%.

Regardless, Crimea is already an autonomous region within Ukraine. If they feel the need to “fight for independence”, why not let them decide freely in a referendum, without the threat of violent force fron Russia?

I should remind you that the last time they had a chance to vote on this (1991 Ukrainian Independence Referendum), clear majorities of voters in both Crimea and Sevastapol voted to cut ties with Moscow.

Norwegian on February 22, 2014 at 11:24 PM

Sevastopol was a closed city back in Soviet Days due to naval base there, so had no chance to visit it then.

riddick on February 22, 2014 at 11:06 PM

That’s one of the things that makes Sevastopol so interesting today. The war monuments are…. monumental…huge! The Black Sea Fleet Museum is fascinating. The port filled with the fleet today is right there to see. The beaches were packed. The resorts modern.
And to think it was a closed city.

oceansidecon on February 22, 2014 at 11:24 PM

We started off an a cruise ship (to Yalta via Istanbul), but then stayed and traveled on land. That may have something to do with the ease of travel. It was a pre-arranged group tour through an agency, so I am sure there was paperwork behind the scenes. I do know I did not have to send in my passport. I’d be too nervous to do that.

oceansidecon on February 22, 2014 at 11:18 PM

That may be the difference. I will check. Thank you for the information. Under the current circumstances I’m sure everything will change, but I appreciate your input.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:24 PM

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:14 PM

I just want to say I appreciate your input here, not gonna say I agree with your opinion… I’m far to ignorant on the situation at this point. However, you present your opinion in a very polite manner. That has to count for something…. at least to me. Riddick may have different opinions… and a far coarser vocabulary.

Nonetheless, the facts available seem to favor Riddick. Nice of you to give us updates though.

NiteOwl on February 22, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Goes against the common thread of anarchy/chaos without government control. Interesting don’t you think?

usarmyretired on February 22, 2014 at 11:18 PM

Read LOCAL reports from the ground, not the version made up by leftist media. ALL the fires in government buildings were started by radicals, no one else. And now goon squads are doing SS impersonation via stop and present ID.

Speaker of Duma was severely beaten to force him to “submit a resignation”, he then called Yanukovich to pick him up and save from the Nazis, which he did.

Read LOCAL reports. TODAY there was a large gathering in Eastern Ukraine and a decision to secede, did leftist news media report that?

riddick on February 22, 2014 at 11:26 PM

Things are getting way deeper and faster than you posted. There was a large meetings of deputies from Eastern and Southern Ukraine today with Yanukivich to discuss a new state, with guarantor of security being Russia:
riddick on February 22, 2014 at 11:21 PM

Riddick, I’m sure that is true. I have not spoken with Sevastopol in several hours. Besides, they have less information on the ground then we do via the internet. It’s all moving fast.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:29 PM

Wrong. I don’t get why you Russians feel the need to make up statistics.
The ethnic Russia population in Crimea is not “~80%”. It is barely above 50%.
Norwegian on February 22, 2014 at 11:24 PM

I’m sorry, Norwegian, but where my people are it is 100% Russian. One can do all the averages they want, but when it comes to who is actually going to do something, I guarantee that it will be the ethnic Russians in Crimea.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:34 PM

I just want to say I appreciate your input here, not gonna say I agree with your opinion… I’m far to ignorant on the situation at this point. However, you present your opinion in a very polite manner. That has to count for something…. at least to me. Riddick may have different opinions… and a far coarser vocabulary.

Nonetheless, the facts available seem to favor Riddick. Nice of you to give us updates though.

NiteOwl on February 22, 2014 at 11:25 PM

Thank you. I try to stay pragmatic and in touch with reality. It is really a serious situation with lives on the line. I don’t care about winning some debate on a Website. I care about the people on the ground.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:38 PM

Thank you. I try to stay pragmatic and in touch with reality. It is really a serious situation with lives on the line. I don’t care about winning some debate on a Website. I care about the people on the ground.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 11:38 PM

I’m hoping and praying for a “no more bloodshed” resolution to this… but at this point that is a pipe dream. I hope your family makes it ok. Unfortunately that is the best I can do.

NiteOwl on February 23, 2014 at 12:06 AM

I’m hoping and praying for a “no more bloodshed” resolution to this… but at this point that is a pipe dream. I hope your family makes it ok. Unfortunately that is the best I can do.

NiteOwl on February 23, 2014 at 12:06 AM

Thanks, NiteOwl, I appreciate that.

Kaffa on February 23, 2014 at 12:14 AM

From the Daily Mail:

The capacity of Ukrainians to flout their Western well-wishers was shown when the protesters ignored that EU-sponsored deal to seize control of Kiev.

The radicals might ignore the West, but the West cannot ignore the consequences of letting them run riot into a conflict with local Russians or the Kremlin itself.

If political and economic chaos leads to civil war in the country lying between Nato and Russia, Yugoslavia’s break-up would seem like a vicarage tea party.

The point is that the neo-Nazis in Kiev are out of control. The Crimea must protect itself.

Kaffa on February 23, 2014 at 12:26 AM

From Moscow Times:

Russia has warned the West that it is willing to fight a war over Crimea, a Ukrainian region where 60 percent of the population is ethnically Russian and where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is stationed.

“If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war,” a senior government official told the Financial Times on Thursday. “They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia.”

Kaffa on February 23, 2014 at 1:06 AM

Kaffa on February 23, 2014 at 1:06 AM

Where in the world are you? You do have to sleep eventually right???

Just so we understand each other, the stakes are much higher with the Ukraine than they ever were with Georgia.

Not exactly sure why, I suspect location, but the west (mostly Europe) will be unlikely to cede Ukraine to Russia.

Everybody knows Obama’s balls are kept in Moochelles purse. Merkel still has hers in hand. If it ends up with Germany vs Russia 2.0 I believe Russia will fall.

The ONLY reason Russia prevailed over Hitler was because of the UK/US distraction from their west.

Just a tactical view… if Germany turns their military might, and industrial capability into full on war? I suspect Russia will become a German providence.

They (the Russians) will be unable to use their nukes for fear of American retribution. With US/UK backing … Germany gets their revenge on decades of Russian oppression on half of their country.

REMEMBER facts here mean nothing, perception is their reality.

NiteOwl on February 23, 2014 at 1:46 AM

The only thing that ever served Russia from invasion (By Napoleon and the Germans) was the vast area and keeping supply lines open. Technology negates that advantage. No offence meant to Russians, but Germans are far more industrious. They make Americans look weak in comparison… well, the Miley, Beiber, Kardashian generation anyway.

We have an impressive military, but I doubt it will even be used. Like I said earlier, Obama’s balls/Mooches purse. Probably the best thing for America at this point. We don’t need to get into this fight, IMO.

NiteOwl on February 23, 2014 at 2:10 AM

OBAMA should make note of what happens when you DICTATE.

You get forcibly removed from your perch.

TX-96 on February 23, 2014 at 7:16 AM

If you decide to advance beyond woodworking and wish to try some rock work let me know. Maybe I could repay you a little for the wisdom you have given so freely.

If you are whom I believe you are we share many of the same shortcomings. I hope and aspire to have as much to offer to the world as you have already.

LOL, there I go again… just trying to figure people out!

NiteOwl on February 22, 2014 at 10:51 PM

If I am able to go beyond woodworking and there is any economy left, then I’ll be looking to get a basic welding rig and mini-lathe setup up and running. For that I need more skill and basement space, so that may be awhile. If you know woodworking then there is a high cross-over of skill to metal working, and as I believe in having good skills that don’t require computers, that means hand work with metals at first. CNC is nice, and just about any spare computer can run a system with motors and DROs, but I desire the skills to understand what a system like that does from top to bottom.

Lapidary hasn’t been an interest in my life, and my geology skills in the field would require a severe brushing up at this point in my life. The best I can do is some generalized recommendations, but even those are limited as lapidary work is a specialty all its own that I haven’t touched since 8th grade.

On my writing, just know remember that I use it for recovery and to make sure I have some basic skills in research and analysis. The main complaint is that what I write is extremely dense and needs to be unpacked, and that even the unpacked material needs unpacking. I use a non-conscious structure applied to what I write so that it can at least flow from my fingers through the keyboard at a rapid clip: style, syntax and spelling tend to get rudely ejected into the ditch along the way. Sometimes I’ll stop to pick them up… usually they are left forlorn and forgotten.

ajacksonian on February 23, 2014 at 8:14 AM

An activist from Kiev goes to Kerch, Crimea, to make a speech and raise support for the new Ukrainian government. The ethnic Russians of Kerch did not like his speech. (The video is in Russian and contains violence.)

Kaffa on February 23, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Dud you lost it when you reported the protesters installed their own parliament.

dogsoldier on February 23, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Let me repeat what I have said before, there is no good solution to this problem. The people are faced with either the Ukrainian system of corruption or the Russian system of corruption. Ideology has little to do with it. For the ethnic Russians, many of who do not even speak Ukrainian, it is better to be taken advantage of by someone who speaks your language and shares your culture than by someone who doesn’t.

Kaffa on February 22, 2014 at 5:47 PM

We can hope the new government of Ukraine won’t be the dictatorial tyrant Yanu turned out to be.

If it is, then the people need to keep trying until they get a democracy. Freedom is always messy.

Regarding the parliament having guns to their heads, all of Yanu’s supporters fled to russia. Of the rest, even those who didn’t support the protesters voted to impeach him and that does matter.

In the eyes of the world, Yanu is all done.

dogsoldier on February 23, 2014 at 10:56 AM

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26312008

Ukraine: Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov named interim president

Analysis
David Stern BBC News, Kiev

A day after a string of events that would have been sufficient for a year’s worth of activity in most countries, Ukrainians have awoken today to two fundamental questions: Who is in charge of the country? And what next?

Technically speaking, President Viktor Yanukovych has been deposed, after the country’s parliament voted to dismiss him by a legally binding constitutional majority.

Oleksandr Turchynov of the Fatherland Party, and a close ally of the recently-freed Yulia Tymoshenko, is in charge.

dogsoldier on February 23, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Ok I found what I wrote earlier was incorrect. SOME of the opposition did sign Friday’s agreement, but not all the opposition groups were on board. Neither were the Russians, so the entire “agreement” was not real.

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/ukraine-president-backs-down-signs-peace-pact-protesters-n35171

dogsoldier on February 23, 2014 at 11:33 AM

The only negotiating being done here has been by the Germans, Poles, and French, who managed the agreement. Obama has done nothing. The EU has tried but, in the words of Andrew Wilson, “brought a baugette to a knife fight.”

Any partition of Ukraine, or should the pro-Russian faction win in the end, would be a huge victory for Putin’s vision of Russian Empire. They can lose the Central Asia republics, those have little economic power developed. They can accept a push on Georgia. But if Russia loses Ukraine to European influence, there will be no New Empire.

The world’s future, and Europe’s, will be directly affected by the outcome of this struggle.

Adjoran on February 24, 2014 at 2:41 AM

UKRAINE IS GAME TO YOU????!!!!….

Pest on February 24, 2014 at 7:54 AM

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