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Ukraine

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Index
  1. Ukraine Main Page
  2. An Independent Nation
  3. A Struggling Economy and a Troubled Government
  4. Gas Causes an Energy Crisis
  5. Several Rounds of Elections and Another Gas Crisis
  6. Ally of Former Prime Minister Jailed
  7. 2012 Language Bill and New Election
  8. Massive Protests Call for Yanukovich's Resignation
  9. Yanukovich Flees Capital
  10. Russian Troops Sent to Crimea
  11. Putin Announces Annexation of Crimea
  12. Unrest Spreads to Other Eastern Cities
  13. Referendums on Autonomy Held in Other Eastern Regions
  14. Billionaire Businessman Wins Presidential Election
Massive Protests Call for Yanukovich's Resignation

Ukraine was close to signing a trade agreement with the European Union in November 2013, but President Yanukovich backed out at the last minute, bowing to pressure from Russian president Vladimir Putin, who threatened financial penalties if Ukraine edged closer to Europe. In addition, Yanukovich refused to comply with an EU demand that Yanukovich release former prime minister Tymoshenko from prison. Tens of thousands of people who favor integrating with Europe, who see such a move as a vital step toward a more promising economic and democratic future, took to the streets of Kiev to protest against Yanukovich's decision. Police responded violently to the protests, using tear gas and truncheons to disperse the crowds in Independence Square.

The protests continued for days, increasing in scope and intensity after the violent response by police. By early December protesters in Kiev had taken over City Hall, the Trade Unions building, and Independence Park, blockaded the Cabinet of Ministers, and were planning to seize the parliament building. Several hundred thousand protesters gathered in Kiev in early December, demanding that Yanukovich resign. During one protest, demonstrators tore down a statue of Lenin. Days later, Yanukovich dispatched police to clear Independence Square with chainsaws and bulldozers, but they withdrew when it was clear the protesters would resume their demonstrations. Yanukovich said he would consider re-opening talks with the EU.

Instead of re-engaging with the EU, Yanukovich reached a deal with Putin in which Russia loaned Ukraine $15 billion and sharply cut oil prices. The Ukrainian government said the aid prevented the country from falling into bankruptcy and will provide economic stability. However, economists said that unless Ukraine increases revenue and cuts spending, the country will once again fall into financial crisis.

The deal did little to quell the unrest, and the protests continued in Independence Square into January 2014. Parliament hastily passed sweeping measures on Jan. 16 that outlawed demonstrations. The protests then turned violent, with demonstrators attacking police. Five protesters were killed in the battles with police. Yanukovich met with opposition leaders, but the negotiations only produced threats. Protesters began to lose confidence in the opposition leaders after they failed to win any concessions from Yanukovich. As the protests spread to cities across the country, Yanukovich offered to install opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk as prime minster. He heads the Fatherland Party, which is also the party of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Yanukovich offered the post of vice prime minister to another opposition leader, Vitaly Klitschko, a popular former boxer. Both refused the offer, saying the moves only further entrenched Yankovich. On Jan. 28, the president reversed the ban on protests. Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov and his cabinet resigned the same day. Yanukovich named Serhiy Arbuzov as interim prime minister. Amid the turmoil, Putin announced that Russisa would suspend the financial aid package until "we know what economic policies the new government will implement, who will be working there, and what rules they will follow." The news was a serious blow to Yankovich—and the country.

Next: Yanukovich Flees Capital
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