Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ukraine Parliament Votes to Remove President Viktor Yanukovych: Sets New Presidential Elections for May 25

There's video here, from RT, "Ukrainian parliament impeaches Yanukovich," and Euronews, "Defiant Yanukovych likens opposition to Nazis."

At the Wall Street Journal, "Parliament Ousts Ukraine President: Action Comes After Yanukovych Leaves Capital and Decries What He Calls a Coup by 'Bandits'":
KIEV, Ukraine—Ukraine's parliament voted on Saturday to remove President Viktor Yanukovych and set new presidential elections for May 25. The action came hours after he left the capital and protesters took control of the city center.

Mr. Yanukovych vowed to remain in power, even as his political allies abandoned him in droves. In an interview with a TV station in Kharkiv in the eastern portion of the country, he denounced the events in Kiev as a "coup d'état" that he blamed on "bandits."

"I have no plans to leave the country and I have no plans to resign. I am the legally elected president and all the international intermediaries I've talked to (over the last few days) have given me guarantees of security. We'll see how those are fulfilled," Mr. Yanukovych said in the TV interview, speaking in Russian.

Oleksandr Turchynov, a leading opposition lawmaker, was elected speaker of parliament, which under the constitution makes him acting head of state.

Mr. Turchynov told lawmakers that Mr. Yanukovych had tried to board a plane to Russia but was turned back by border officials and had returned to the area near his hometown of Donetsk in Ukraine's east, according to the Interfax news agency. An official from the border guards later told Interfax that a plane carrying Mr. Yanukovych had sought clearance to leave Donetsk late on Saturday but was denied it because of lack of necessary permits.

In a day of fast-moving developments, Ukraine opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison and made her way to Independence Square in Kiev where she addressed a large nighttime crowd.

Speaking from a wheelchair after suffering back problems during her 2½ years in prison, Ms. Tymoshenko called for bringing Mr. Yanukovych to the square to face the people. Though widely seen as a potential presidential candidate, she gave no hints of her plans, saying only, "I came back to work."

"When snipers were firing bullets into our guys' hearts, they were firing into everyone's hearts. And if those who organized and carried it are not punished by the worst, most severe court, it will be our shame," she told the crowd.

Tens of thousands poured onto Kiev's main square on Saturday evening ahead of her speech for funerals for some of the dead protesters. As pictures of dead protesters flashed across a big screen, the crowd chanted, "Heroes never die!" and, referring to Mr. Yanukovych, "Death to the criminal!"