Daily Archives: February 23, 2014

Obama Official Warns Russia on Military Action in Ukraine

WASHINGTON, February 23 (RIA Novosti) – A senior US official on Sunday warned Moscow not to send troops into Ukraine amid the political crisis gripping Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor, saying such a move would constitute a “grave mistake.”

“It’s not in the interests of Ukrainian or of Russia or of Europe or the United States to see the country split. It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate,” White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Rice’s comments followed a report by the Financial Times last week quoting an unidentified senior Russian official as saying that Moscow could intervene to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s Crimea territory, home to a Russian naval base.

“If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war. They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia,” the official was quoted as saying in a reference to Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

Rice said in Sunday’s interview that the situation in Ukraine “is not about the US and Russia” and that closer Ukrainian ties with Europe would not come at the expense of the country’s historical links with Russia.

Susan Rice - NBC NewsWire -Handout via Reuters

Susan Rice – NBC NewsWire -Handout via Reuters

“There is not an inherent contradiction … between a Ukraine that has longstanding historic and cultural ties to Russia and a modern Ukraine that wants to integrate more closely with Europe,” she said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday abandoned his lavish estate in the wake of bloody street clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters last week that evaporated his authority in the capital Kiev and broad swathes of the country.

Ukrainian lawmakers impeached Yanukovych on Saturday, though he remained defiant in a statement issued the same day from a location in his political stronghold in the east of the country, describing attempts to unseat him as a coup.

Rice said that Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed with a message delivered by his American counterpart, Barack Obama, in a phone call between the two leaders Friday.

“The president’s message was, look, we have a shared interest in a Ukraine that remains unified, whole, independent and is able to exercise the will of its people freely,” she said.

In a telephone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed the United States’ “strong support” for the Ukrainian parliament’s decision to transfer presidential duties to speaker Oleksander Turchinov, the State Department said in a statement.

Kerry also “underscored the United States’ expectation that Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic freedom of choice will be respected by all states,” the State Department said.

Lavrov told Kerry, meanwhile, that the Ukrainian opposition has “effectively seized power,” refuses to lay down arms and “continues to place its stake on violence,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Lavrov emphasized to his US counterpart that an agreement signed Friday between Yanukovych and Ukrainian opposition leaders calling for early presidential elections and constitutional reforms must be enforced, noting that the United States welcomed the deal at the time

Obama Official Warns Russia on Military Action in Ukraine | World | RIA Novosti.

​Hot. Cool. Yours. Fin! Sochi Olympics close with breathtaking show

Fireworks explode over the Olympic Park during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014.

After two weeks of cheering, intense competition, and record-breaking achievements, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games finally bid farewell, as athletes and fans gather one last time to admire the sparkling closing ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium.

The closing ceremony kicked off shortly after 8 p.m., maintaining the “20:14” theme. The display was a fantastic affair in “art-house style,” with spectators continuing their trip through Russian culture. Fireworks lit up the sky as a boat carrying Lyuba, Yura, and Valya floated over the audience and glittering shoals of ‘fish’ swarmed underneath.

As the fish formed the shapes of Olympic rings, one in the top right-hand corner ironically hovered in a small bud-shape before victoriously bursting open.

The Russian flag was brought into the arena by the Russian athletes who led their country to gold at the Games. Russian President Vladimir Putin and IOC president Thomas Bach were among the crowds, observing a subsequent rendition of the Russian national anthem sung by 1,000 children.

Athletes from the participating nations then marched into the arena, with Blur’s ‘Song 2’ among the pieces played, before a hush settled upon the audience and Olympic champions prepared themselves to receive their medals on the podium.

Norway’s cross country skiers were presented with gold, silver, and bronze medals for the women’s 30 kilometer mass start free race, and Norway’s national anthem was performed. Russian cross country skiers were next – Aleksandr Legkov, Maksim Vylegzhanin, and Ilya Chernousov also swept the podium in the men’s 50 kilometer mass start race. The Russian anthem rang through the stadium after they were presented with their medals.

Gold medalist Alexander Legkov jumps on the podium beside silver medalist Maxim Vylegzhanin (L) and bronze medalist Ilia Chernousov (R), all of Russia, after they were presented with their medals in the men’s cross-country 50 km mass start free event during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014.

Performers then returned to the stage, dancing over a projected tribute to renowned artist Marc Chagall. Pianist Denis Matsuev performed Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto no. 2” to Lyuba, Yura, and Valya, as 62 pianos surrounded them. Mariinsky and Bolshoi Ballet dancers flocked into the arena.

Russian pianist Denis Matsuev (center L) performs during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014.

Russia’s literary greats were then celebrated, being shown at their writing desks. Akhmatova, Dosteyevsky, and Pushkin were among those shown. Shostakovich’s Waltz no. 2 heralded a crowd of circus performers’ entrance into the stadium. An impressive acrobatic display was undertaken, after which the tent and its surroundings drained into a ‘black hole’ in the middle of the floor.

Everyone stood as the Olympic anthem was then played.

The flag of the games was taken down and ceremoniously passed by the Sochi mayor to his counterpart from Pyeongchang, which will host the next Winter Games in four years’ time.

Mayor of Sochi Anatoliy Pakhomov (L) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (C) applaud after handing over the Olympic flag to the Mayor of PyeongChang Lee Seok-rae during the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics at the Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014.

The president of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Organizing Committee, Dmitriy Chernyshenko, and Bach took to the arena to address the audience. Chernyshenko stated that the victory of the athletes had inspired people worldwide.

Bach thanked Putin, the Russian government, and the organizing committee, among others.

“Russia delivered all what it had promised. What took decades in other parts of the world, was achieved here in Sochi in just seven years,” Bach stressed. He then declared the Winter Olympics officially closed.

The Sochi 2014 mascots – the Leopard, the Hare, and the Polar Bear – drifted dreamily into the stadium as a maze of mirrors sprang up around them.

Singing children foreshadowed the coming spring, as a ship with Faberge egg-esque sails drifted overhead. Soprano Hibla Gerzmava’s powerful voice resounded through the stadium.

The Polar Bear put out the Olympic flame with his breath, and the spectacular event ended with an enormous fireworks display.

Actors and dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics at the Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 7, 2014 in Sochi.

Looking back at the Games, Olympic officials say they were grand in terms of both scale and results. A record 88 nations competed in Sochi, which beat the previous record of 82 set at the previous Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

The athletes were also fighting for a record number of medals. Overall 98 sets of medals were up for grabs during the Games.

No Olympics goes by without breaking records. Among those set in Sochi’s arenas were by Dutch speed skaters who achieved clean sweeps in no less than four events and medaled in every single speed skating race, both men’s and women’s.

Gold medalists Marrit Leenstra, Jorien ter Mors, Lotte van Beek and Ireen Wust of the Netherlands pose during the victory ceremony for the women’s speed skating team pursuit event at the Adler Arena in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 22, 2014.

Along with the Dutch skaters, the Norwegian athletes also broke their own records. Cross country skier Marit Bjoergen now has six Olympic golds (she won three in Sochi), totaling a record number of medals for a woman at the Winter Olympics. Biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen became the most medaled Olympian in the history of the Winter Games, with 13 medals. He won his 12th and 13th medals in Sochi.

Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen competes in the Biathlon mixed 2×6 km + 2×7,5 km Relay at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 19, 2014 in Rosa Khutor near Sochi.

Figure skating has always been considered a “young” sport, as many skaters start to compete at a high level at the age of 17 or 18. However, Russia broke the ‘young’ record as 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya became the country’s youngest athlete to ever win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, after her splendid free skate in the team figure skating event.

Russia’s Yulia Lipnitskaya performs during the Figure Skating Gala Exhibition at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, February 22, 2014.

After 15 fierce days of competition, Russia topped the medals table after its athletes showed their skills in skiing, skating, and snowboarding. The host nation won 33 medals including 13 gold, 11 silver, and 9 bronze. The second and the third places went to Norway (26 medals, 11 gold, 5 silver, 10 bronze) and Canada (25 medals, 10 gold, 10 silver, 5 bronze).

Silver medalist Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin (7) gold medalist Russia’s Alexander Legkov (3) and Bronze medalist Russia’s Ilia Chernousov (8) celebrate during the Men’s Cross-Country Skiing 50km Mass Start Free Flower Ceremony at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014, in Rosa Khuto, near Sochi

President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach praised the organization of the Games and Russian hospitality.

“Let’s ask those who criticized the Games if they are ready to change their opinion,” Bach told reporters on Sunday. “I spent four nights in different Olympic villages and had an opportunity to learn the opinions of those sportsmen who are important to me. None of the athletes uttered a word of complaint to me.”

Still, the Olympic spirit won’t leave Sochi with the closing ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympic Games – because the Black Sea city will host the XI Paralympic Winter Games from March 7-16.

Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova performs at the Figure Skating Exhibition Gala at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 22, 2014.

First placed Russia’s pilot Alexander Zubkov (5th L to 8th L), Alexey Negodaylo, Dmitry Trunenkov and Alexey Voevoda jump on the podium, as second placed Latvia’s pilot Oskars Melbardis (L to 4th L), Daumants Dreiskens, Arvis Vilkaste, Janis Strenga, and (4th R to R) third placed pilot Steven Holcomb of the U.S., with his team mates Curtis Tomasevicz, Steven Langton and Christopher Fogt, look on during the medal ceremony for the four-man bobsleigh event of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at the Sanki Sliding Center in Rosa Khutor February 23, 2014.

Canada’s gold medallist team poses during the Men’s Ice Hockey Medal Ceremony at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014.

Performers surround mechanized Olympic mascots during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014.

Fireworks explode in the closing ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 23, 2014

Olympic Games mascots extinguish Olympic flame in a small cauldron in the stadium during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014.


RT News

Morsi accused of leaking Egypt security secrets to Iran

CAIRO: Prosecutors Sunday accused deposed Mohamed Morsi of leaking state secrets to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as part of a plot to destabilise Egypt, at the second hearing of his trial for espionage.

The trial, one of three that are under way against Morsi,
Prosecutors accuse Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, of conspiring with foreign powers, Palestinian Hamas movement and Shiite Iran to destabilise Egypt.

On Sunday, the second hearing since the trial opened on February 16, they detailed the charges against Morsi and his co-defendants.

They were specifically accused of “delivering to a foreign country… national defence secrets and providing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards with security reports in order to destabilise the security and stability of the country”.

The statement read in court did not identify the “foreign country”.

But prosecutors said Morsi and the defendants carried out espionage activities on behalf of the “international Muslim Brotherhood organisation and Hamas with an aim to perpetrate terror attacks in the country in order to spread chaos and topple the state” from 2005 to August 2013.

During Morsi’s one year presidency, ties flourished between Cairo and Hamas, a Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood which rules neighbouring Gaza.

But since July, Egypt’s military-installed government has accused Hamas of backing Morsi and his Brotherhood, and carrying out terrorist attacks inside the country.

At Sunday’s hearing Morsi was held separately in a soundproof glass cage, designed to keep him and the other defendants from interrupting the proceedings with outbursts.

If found guilty, the defendants could face the death penalty.

Most of the defendants were also accused of moving armed groups in and out of Egypt in January 2011, in a bid to attack army and police installations and prisons to facilitate the escape of inmates.

Also on Sunday the defendants were represented by a new team of 10 defence lawyers appointed by the lawyers’ union, to replace the original team that withdrew from the case.

The trial was adjourned to February 27.

Morsi is already on trial for the killing of protesters during his presidency and a jailbreak during the 2011 uprising .

Morsi also faces trial for “insulting the judiciary”. A date for that has yet to be set.


Cheryl Kennedy | Contributor, The US Independent

The American people have been duped by the corruption, fraud and the NO JURISDICTION stooge representation of U.S. Politicians. American people, you must realize YOU DO NOT live in a civilized society. YOU & YOUR FAMILIES are living in the Wild West of thieving predators in a criminally insane society of many sociopaths, psychopaths, sadists and Satanists running the U.S. Government and World Nations.

Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and theft of your money which is fraudulent paper created out of thin air through the criminal Federal Reserve monetization process is nothing but a sham and tyranny. These crooks have NO regards to your rights and life. The criminal operatives in U.S. Banks are off the charts your money is not safe. We need a U.S. Treasury dollar, but President Obama continues his own foreign corporate fraudulent reign. Meanwhile these predators rather destroy you and your family for their own gain. They do not care about you and prefer you stay SHEEP instead of a FREE THINKERS.

All the predator eyes that focus on any American or any human being are NOT POWERFUL, they are UNHAPPY & UNAMERICAN. They are weak, mentally disturbed individuals or groups of criminally insane thugs. Predators that prey upon victims are very deranged. Anyone who needs to harm a family or individual intentionally is mentally challenged, such as the turn a blind eye members of the U.S. Congress whom aid this treason and terrorism. ABOLISH THE DEMOCRAT/REPUBLICAN SYSTEM OF CORRUPTION, ALONG WITH CAMPAIGN FINANCE FUNDING & KICKBACK SCHEMES.

The subversion of the foreign corporate Defacto U.S. Government with no one in authority anywhere includes President Obama and the U.S. Military, they are nothing but FAILURES. They themselves violate all Americans rights and laws. A remedy would have been to halt the corruption in many U.S. Government operations where American families were being harmed in order to PROTECT them, but that did not occur. Instead obstruction of justice, reckless endangerment, abuse of power, raping, thieving predators harming countless American families to steal their homes, assets, children, the elderly and individuals lives continues while laws and rights are violated as under the U.S. Constitution. U.S. Court Gulags hold millions and millions of Americans hostage for years by terroristic judges, attorneys, District Attorneys, Sheriffs, etc. plus by the racketeering organized crime Bar Associations. The Bush’s and Clinton’s are equally responsible for your families harm.

The money you pay to the fraudulent IRS or State tax dollars, property taxes plus all debt are stolen or money laundered to who knows where? Americans the faster you STOP funding these criminal operatives the faster this country is restored to American. Stop allowing these predators to harm YOU & YOUR FAMILY.

STAND YOUR GROUND! ZERO TOLERANCE! All Americans have the 2nd Amendment Right to defend themselves against these criminal predators and this MASS GENOCIDAL TRAUMA & TREASON.

AMERICANS WE ARE NOT LIVING IN A CIVILIZED SOCIETY! IN FACT YOUR LOCAL GOVERNORS, CONGRESSPERSONS & SENATORS ARE CROOKS! Their allegiance is not to you and your family, it is to Britain, The Vatican, Zionists and Mafia’s or to whatever corporate crook that pads their pockets. There are some true Americans in these operations but few willing to TAKE A STAND due to fear. These U.S. Political beggars need to be tossed in cells for TREASON! This criminal rampage exists in every single County in every State Government operation along with the involvement of your crooked local U.S. Court. Every U.S. Court should be shutdown with minimal criminal activity to FREE THE AMERICAN HOSTAGES.

Governor Chris Christie, Commissioner Richard Constable III and many others just preyed upon thousands of Hurricane Sandy victims because they are TREASONOUS Predators in the http://www.renewjerseystronger.org Grant Programs. Since these predators are not yet arrested it reveals once again the lacking regard by President Obama and the U.S. Military to take authority. They are predators that prey upon victims, repulsive. Governor Christie is an attorney who’s nothing but a fraud and liar, but so are many attorneys whom act under Admiralty Law and in U.S. Courts of Commerce, not Constitutional or Common Law Courts. At least Bernie Madoff accepted his arrest and fate without lying. Blow hard, Governor Christie rather spew his own lies and beg for money to aid the criminal cabal he truly represents than admit his own crimes. Are the Banking Cartels supporting this treasonous swine predator? The criminal counts for each harmed Sandy victim by these predators are thousands and thousands of counts per each harmed family. Anyone who signed these fraudulent Grant Awards or ventured into these criminal operative offices was deceived. I place the count on Governor Christie at 12500 or 15100 counts for each Sandy victim harmed? The U.S. Military seriously needs to seize the State of New Jersey’s operations. Once again the U.S. media shows their true colors as traitors to all Hurricane Sandy victims and all Americans as the U.S. Government buys their silence.

If Americans regularly took a stance to STAND YOUR GROUND as under the 2nd Amendment, many American’s lives would have been saved and this foreign sham would never have thrived. The underhanded uncivilized tyrannical criminally inhumane insane crooked sociopathic predators and charlatans that run the U.S. Government and World Nations must be halted at any and all costs.

When President Obama came into office he picked up a nightmare from the Bush Administration. If statistics existed in the United States for just the last five years alone, the numbers would be staggering as to the harm American families sustained from this corruption and terrorism. How many Americans died, were impoverished, became homeless, lost a job, became maimed or sustained a physical injury from stress, duress or war, had children or an elderly relative kidnapped, were raped by pedophiles or inmates in jails or by U.S. Military soldiers, were unlawfully seized or arrested, had their assets stolen, had businesses destroyed, had their rights and lives violated, sustained a trauma or are held hostage in U.S. Courts? How do you feel about this inhumanity? They have done nothing to HALT these harms.

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”



Why have these criminal acts, foreclosures and the continual destruction of the American family and American Republic been allowed to continue with such severe ramifications? GREAT DISHONOR EXISTS BY THE FAILED U.S. MILITARY. Unfortunately, the U.S. Military will need to serve us with MILITARY JUSTICE. Otherwise, the American people need to take charge, due to the magnitude of this inhumane genocidal terrorism. Americans, the U.S. Military’s stay must be short lived and WE THE PEOPLE, the American People Must REIGN! AS AMERICANS, WE THE PEOPLE, BRING FORTH THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND & COMMAND JUSTICE NOW!

President Obama’s fraudulent lying duality routine needs to end right now! STOP raising the debt ceiling to aid foreign terrorism, printing money for crooks or funds to other nations for wars. The only country that needs assistance right now is this American Republic. If President Obama acted legitimately and restored this American Republic as required perhaps he should stay in office. The continual dragging out of this terroristic charade is TREASON! It’s been a long road to FREEDOM, President Obama, maybe you should jump on the FREEDOM TRAIN for CHANGE!







Plan to split California into 6 states gets closer to vote

Plan to divide California into 6 states gets closer to vote

Plan to divide California into 6 states gets closer to vote

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper’s proposal to break the US state of California into six new states has moved one step closer to getting on a ballot for vote in November.

Draper has been on a campaign to collect 807,615 signatures needed to get his plan on the ballot that could split California into six new states called Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California.

According to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Draper has been given the go-ahead to begin collecting signatures for the petition to carve up the United States’ most populous state.

Now he has until July 18 to collect the signatures of 807,615 registered voters to push his plan ahead that would also require approval by the Congress.

Draper, who is the founder of the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, said in a statement on Thursday, that California is too big to manage and essentially ungovernable.

“It is more and more difficult for Sacramento to keep up with the social issues from the various regions of California. With six Californias, people will be closer to their state governments and states can get a refresh,” Draper said.

Political experts say that Draper’s initiative stands little chance of success.


PressTV – Plan to split California into 6 states gets closer to vote.

Russia top of Sochi 2014 medal count as skiers sweep podium in 50km marathon

Silver medalist Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin (7) gold medalist Russia’s Alexander Legkov (3) and Bronze medalist Russia’s Ilia Chernousov (8)

Russian skiers have secured victory for Russia in the Olympic medal table by occupying all places on the podium in the 50km mass start race on the final day of the Games.

Aleksandr Legkov won the race with the result of 1:46:55.

His fellow team members, Maksim Vylegzhanin and Ilya Chernousov, took silver and bronze respectively, arriving at the finish just 0.1 second apart.

The triple medal win secures Russia’s leading position in the total medal count of the Sochi Olympics, since no other national team will be able to beat Russia’s result in the two remaining sport events on Sunday.

Russia’s result in Sochi is the best the country has ever had during the Winter Olympics. The country’s previous best gold haul was in 1994 in Norway’s Lillehammer, when the national team won 11 gold medals. The Sochi achievement also beats the record of the Soviet Union, which won a total of 29 medals in the Calgary Games of 1988.

With two gold medals for the host country in the final day of competitions in skiing and bobsleigh, Russia has 33 medals, including 13 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze.

For now, Russia’s closest competitor in the gold race is Norway, which has 11 gold medals. In the total medal count the US team is just behind Russia, with 27 medals.


Where’s the President? Yanukovych’s whereabouts unknown

February 22, 2014: In this image made from video released by the Regional Administration of Kharkiv and distributed by AP Video, Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine, speaks in Kharkiv, Ukraine

February 22, 2014: In this image made from video released by the Regional Administration of Kharkiv and distributed by AP Video, Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine, speaks in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Nearly a full day after Ukrainian President Viktor Yankovych departed his country’s capital, Kiev, leaving it to the protesters who have called for his removal for three months and the parliament that voted to do just that Saturday, no one seems to know where he is.

A plane with Yanukovych onboard was denied permission to take off Saturday evening from Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is the president’s base of support, the State Border Guard Service said. Oleh Slobodyan of the State Border Guard service told the Associated Press Sunday that the plane did not have the proper documentation. It is not clear what the plane’s ultimate destination would have been. The president was driven off in a car from the airport.

Yanukovych did speak on television Saturday in Kharkiv, accusing his opponents of trying to overthrow the government.

“Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and banditry and a coup d’etat,” he said. “I will do everything to protect my country from breakup, to stop bloodshed.”

However, Yanukovych’s movements have not been accounted for since, and even his spokesman told the Associated Press Sunday morning that he does not know where his boss is.

Meanwhile, thousands of curious and contemptuous Ukrainians roamed the suddenly open grounds of the lavish compound outside Kiev where Yanukovych was believed to live.

Parliament, which he controlled the previous day but is now emboldened against him, voted to remove him and set elections for May 25. But Yanukovych said in the televised address that he now regards the parliament as illegitimate and he won’t respect its decisions.

The Kiev protest camp at the center of the anti-Yanukovych movement was calm but still full of dedicated demonstrators Sunday morning. Protester self-defense units who have taken control of the capital peacefully changed shifts Sunday. Helmeted and wearing makeshift shields, they have replaced police guarding the president’s administration and parliament, and have sought to stop radical forces from inflicting damage or unleashing violence.

Ukraine is deeply divided between eastern regions that are largely pro-Russian and western areas that widely detest Yanukovych and long for closer ties with the European Union. Yanukovych’s shelving of an agreement with the EU in November set off the wave of protests, but they quickly expanded their grievances to corruption, human rights abuses and calls for Yanukovych’s resignation.

The political crisis in the nation of 46 million has changed with blinding speed repeatedly in the past week. First there were signs that tensions were easing, followed by horrifying violence and then a deal signed under Western pressure that aimed to resolve the conflict but left the unity of the country in question.

Former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose diadem of blond peasant braids and stirring rhetoric attracted world attention in the 2004 Orange Revolution was both sad and excited as she spoke to a crowd of about 50,000 on Kiev’s Independence Square, where a sprawling protest tent camp was set up in December. Sitting in a wheelchair because of a back problem aggravated during imprisonment, her voice cracked and her face was careworn.

But her words were vivid, praising the protesters who were killed this week in clashes with police that included sniper fire and entreating the living to keep the camp going.

“You are heroes, you are the best thing in Ukraine!” she said of the victims. The Health Ministry said the death toll in clashes between protesters and police that included sniper attacks had reached 82 dead over the last week. The protesters put that figure at over 100.

And she urged the demonstrators not to yield their encampment in the square, known in Ukrainian as the Maidan.

“In no case do you have the right to leave the Maidan until you have concluded everything that you planned to do,” she said.

The crowd was thrilled.

“We missed Yulia and her fire so much,” said demonstrator Yuliya Sulchanik. Minutes after her release, Tymoshenko said she plans to run for president, and Sulchanik said “Yulia will be the next president — she deserves it.”

Yanukovych’s authority in Kiev appeared to be eroding by the hour and suspicions mounted that he was trying to get out of the country. His support base crumbled further as a leading governor and a mayor from the eastern city of Kharkiv fled to Russia.

The conviction of Tymoshenko was one of the underlying issues driving the protests.

After the 2004 Orange Revolution helped bring Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency, Tymoshenko became prime minister. But when Yanukovych won the 2010 election, Tymoshenko was arrested and put on trial for abuse of office, an action widely seen as political revenge.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton welcomed the release of Tymoshenko as “an important step forward in view of addressing concerns regarding selective justice in the country.”

Russia came out Saturday firmly against the peace deal, saying the opposition isn’t holding up its end of the agreement, which calls for protesters to surrender arms and abandon their tent camps. Tymoshenko’s entreaty is likely to make the latter condition slow to be fulfilled

 Fox News.

Monument to soldiers who died liberating Ukraine from Nazis toppled

The ‘Soviet Soldier’ – a monument commemorating the collective sacrifice of the Soviet army against Nazi forces – has been toppled in western Ukraine. This follows the country-wide fall of some two dozen Lenin statues.

The taking down of the ‘Soviet Soldier’ in the town of Stryi, Lvov region, turns a new page in the chaos that gripped the nation in November, and has taken on dangerously nationalist overtones in the past fortnight.

The city administration’s website first reported on the story of the monument, erected in 1965 as a companion piece to two other objects: an obelisk with WWII engravings and the Eternal Flame over the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

No official confirmation of any orders for its removal has been given.

The incident follows the dismantling of some 25 statues of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the 1917 revolution that paved way to the creation of the USSR.

One of the latest in a string of such incidents, in Dnepropetrovsk, saw people using ropes and a saw, before jumping onto the statue – the way people did in Iraq when Saddam Hussein lost power. The writing on the monument was then taken apart letter by letter, which the rioters kept as souvenirs

A protester breaks apart a statue of Lenin at a monument in his honor after it was pulled down during a mass rally called “The March of a Million” in Kiev’s Independence Square on December 8, 2013.

People surround a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin, which was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, December 8, 2013.


Ukrainian parliament appoints speaker as acting president

Combo of file pictures shows Aleksandr Turchinov (left) and Viktor Yanukovich

The opposition-controlled Ukrainian parliament has voted to appoint its freshly-elected Speaker Aleksandr Turchinov as acting president. MPs supporting the move arguing that President Yanukovich has de facto resigned his office.

Viktor Yanukovich previously rejected opposition calls to voluntarily step down, which would have saved the parliament taking constitutional impeachment procedures. But parliament, which sees itself as the only legitimate body in Ukraine, decided to replace the president without an impeachment.

Turchinov was elected the new speaker of the parliament on Saturday after his predecessor, Vladimir Rybak, resigned his position after the opposition took control of the legislature.

Parliament is considering a number of key decisions that need to be taken in order to assume full power in Ukraine, including appointing a new prime minister, a new prosecutor general and other top officials.

It has also voted to oust top figures of the Yanukovich government, with the latest victims being acting Foreign Minister, Leonid Kozhara, acting Education Minister Dmitry Tabachnik and acting health minister Raisa Bogatyryova.

Among other bills the parliament is to consider are one outlawing Yanukovich’s Party of Regions and the Ukrainian Communist Party, both of which have elected MPs in the parliament. And another one seeks to censor Russian media, accusing them of biased reporting on the protests in Ukraine.

The new authorities in Kiev say they are seeking the arrest of former senior officials, like former Incomes Minister Aleksandr Klimenko and former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka. Both were reportedly stopped on Saturday by border control due to lack of proper paperwork, as they were trying to leave Ukraine.

The legitimation of the power grab comes a day after several regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced that they do not consider the Ukrainian parliament legitimate and would not abide by its orders. The regions also said they would be forming local militias to resist possible incursions of radical activists from western Ukraine and Kiev.

The three month-long political crisis in Ukraine escalated on Tuesday, with radical opposition activists and riot police engaged in two days of gunfighting in Kiev, resulting in some 80 people losing their lives. In the face of the bloodshed, the central Ukrainian government collapsed under opposition pressure, while President Yanukovich left the capital and went to the east of the country.


Ukrainian border guards refuse Yanukovich’s plane exit country

Ukrainian border guards refused to allow a charter aircraft with President Viktor Yanukovich to take off from the Donetsk airport in the country’s east, local UNN news agency reported.

The agency cited Segei Astakhov, a deputy head of the State Border Service, as saying that the charter flight had no proper documents and permission from the border guards to take off.

He said that during an inspection of the aircraft, armed men from the plane attempted to bribe the border guard staff in exchange for immediate clearance permit for the flight, but the border guards refused

“Two armored vehicles arrived shortly after that,” Astakhov said adding that the president ascended the plane, sat in one of the cars and left the territory of the airport.

It was not reported where the aircraft with the president was bound for.

The Voice of Russia


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