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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
  15. Passenger Jet Crashes in Eastern Ukraine
Yanukovich Flees Capital

The protests in Kiev turned violent. On Feb. 20, 2014, riot police and protesters clashed as the demonstrators attempted to reclaim portions of Independence Square, a central plaza in Kiev that police had taken over two days before. More than 100 people were killed and hundreds were wounded. The clash ended with a truce. In a deal between the opposition and Yanukovich brokered by European Union officials on Feb. 21, the president agreed to hold elections by the end of the year and accept a weakening of the presidency. The opposition wanted him to step down immediately, but signed the agreement nevertheless. Russia, however, refused to endorse the deal. After the agreement, Parliament passed a series of measures that illustrated Yanukovich's weakened position. It voted to free former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison and exonerate her, which will allow her to run for election, grant amnesty to anti-government protesters, and annul constitutional amendments passed in 2008 that expanded the power of the presidency.

The opposition didn't accept the deal and escalated their protests. Yanukovich fled Kiev on Feb. 22, and an interim government was put in place. The next day, Parliament voted to give speaker Oleksandr Turchynov the authority to fulfill the responsibilities of the president. Yanukovich, however, insisted he remained in office. Parliament also appointed Arsen Avakov as temporary interior minister. The interior ministry oversees the police. On Feb. 24, Avakov issued an arrest warrant for Yanukovich, citing the deaths of civilians during the protests. Both the military and the Party of Regions, Yanukovich's party, released statements condemning the deadly crackdown on protesters. The statements indicated that the country may avert a civil war and edge toward stability.

Demonstrations against the turn of events in Ukraine broke out in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, a pro-Russian region in eastern Ukraine. Masked gunmen, believed to be ethnic Russian extremists, took over several government buildings and raised the Russian flag. The gunmen refused to answer questions about their allegiance or who was commanding them. The next day, on Feb. 28, similarly clad gunmen appeared at two airports in Simferopol. There were no reports of violence by the gunmen, but officials feared a separatist revolt may break out. The Black Sea Fleet, a Russian military base, is located in Crimea, and acting president Turchynov warned Russian troops not to intervene. Russia denied any involvement by its military.

In a speech on Feb. 28 from Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, Yanukovich declared that he considers himself still to be the president of Ukraine, and called his ouster a "gangster coup." However, he said he believes Crimea should not seek independence from Ukraine. It was his first public appearance since he fled Ukraine.

Next: Russian Troops Sent to Crimea
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