Voices from Russia

Thursday, 20 February 2014

20 February 2014. The Situation in Kiev Develops

00 Kiev riots 02. 20.02.14


On Thursday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Ukraine and the West should distance themselves from radicals. He said in a press conference in Baghdad, “Russia thinks that the Ukrainian opposition and Western countries should keep a distance between themselves and extremists and other radicals”. During a Rada session today, oppositionists insisted on return to a parliamentary-presidential form of government and on readopting the Constitution of 2004. Aggressive rioters approached the Rada building, seizing buildings in the centre of Kiev, burning tyres as a smokescreen, and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces. According to the MVDU, the radicals used firearms.


Dmitri Peskov, the Presidential Press Secretary, said that President Vladimir Putin sent Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin to Kiev as a mediator in the negotiations with the opposition at the request of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, saying, “A telephone conversation between President Putin and President Yanukovich occurred, on the initiative of the Ukrainian side, during which the Ukrainian President suggested that the head of the Russian state should send a Russian representative to Kiev to take part in the negotiations with the opposition as a mediator, so, Putin decided to send CommissionerVladimir Lukin on this mission. As everyone knows, Vladimir Petrovich (Lukin) has abundant experience of diplomatic service, and a considerable reputation among human rights advocates; besides that, he headed a major opposition party”.


On Thursday, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaly Zakharchenko said that MVDU units have permission to use deadly force, after two days of fierce fighting on the streets of Kiev killed more than 50 people. A month-long stand-off between Berkut spetsnaz troops and protesters demanding régime change erupted in fresh violence this week and the government is under pressure from both Russia and the West to regain control of the situation. Zakharchenko said in a statement published on the MVDU website, “I signed an order for police to use combat weapons, which they can use within legal guidelines”. Television video showed police firing bursts from assault rifles; in another video, an opposition militant in a helmet opened fire from behind a tree. Zakharchenko urged protesters to hand in their weapons and opposition leaders to condemn radical actions.


Orthodox clergy in Kiev held a service to commemorate the victims of the continuing violence at the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra. The Chancellor of the UOC/MP, Metropolitan Antony Pakanich of Borispol and Brovary, served a pannikhida for those who died in the violent street clashes in Kiev. At the service in the Assumption Cathedral, Metropolitan Antony said, “Today, we’ve come here to pray for those who perished. We should pray to God for the end of violence that’s split our nation so that He’ll bestow love and tolerance on us”.


Reports say that downtown Kiev residents are fleeing en masse after a shaky truce between the legitimate government and oppositionists collapsed. A Golos Stolitsy correspondent said that the fighting caused huge traffic jams at the bridges as downtown residents hurried to cross over from the Dneper‘s troubled right bank.


Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Western mainstream media are distorting the situation in the Ukraine. Speaking at a press conference in Baghdad, Lavrov accused Western media of giving biased coverage on the Ukrainian political crisis. The latest accounts estimate the number of dead at 35 following clashes that erupted across the country, with over 500 injured in Kiev alone. Moscow accused extremist oppositionists of pushing the country towards the edge, adding that the rhetoric of foreign officials incited radicalism and contributed to the unrest.


On Thursday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) official spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich issued a statement saying, “Now that rebel fighters use firearms on an increasingly greater scale, one should see this, beyond any doubt, as an overt attempt to stage a coup d’état and use force to seize power. We strongly denounce action by radical extremists, who’re chiefly responsible for the violence and bloody outrage”.


Russia issued an official warning to oppositionist leaders in Kiev, saying that they must put an immediate stop to bloodshed. On Thursday, MID spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said that the oppositionist leadership must resume peaceful dialogue with the government and refrain from all threats and ultimatums, noting, “We’d like to reiterate our demand that the ‘Maidan’ leadership immediately end this bloodshed and start looking for a peaceful way out of the crisis, without any threats or ultimatums. We can and must settle this situation within a constitutional framework, with the current Ukrainian government”.


Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the West incorrectly interprets the extremists’ actions in Ukraine and threaten the legitimate government with sanctions. At a press conference in Baghdad, Lavrov said, “Our Western partners in Europe and the USA are laying all the blame on the country’s authorities and fail to properly qualify the extremists’ actions. We’re really concerned about this, because double standards are obvious here, they’re threatening [the government] with sanctions, and not only threatening, but the Americans already imposed them, thereby encouraging the opposition to dismiss any compromises”.


On Thursday, the Lvov municipal administration posted on its Facebook page that a Russian diplomatic mission came under attack overnight in Lvov, in the Western Ukraine. Across the city, shopping malls and administrative headquarters had to go on the defensive to fight off looters, some of whom believed to be both underage and drunk. Andrei Sadovy, Mayor of Lvov, said, “We managed to fend off attempted attacks on shopping malls, a Russian consulate, and the Sikhovsky Raion administration; we stopped a few other incidents. What we saw here was obviously a foreign scenario for destabilising the situation in Lvov”. Sadovy also warned owners of liquor shops who reportedly sold spirits to minors that he’d punish any such offence with a complete ban on alcohol sales in the city. He emphasised, “I’ll issue a complete ban on all alcohol sales in the city if there’s a single report that someone sold liquor either after 22.00 or to an underage person”.

 20 February 2014

Voice of Russia World Service











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