Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#UkraineCrisis Live Update: Video leak - Ukraine's Tymoshenko threatens not to leave from Russia 'even scorched earth'

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said that Ukrainians must take up arms against Russians so that not even scorched earth will be left where Russia stands in phone call with with the former Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, the representative of the Party of Regions, Nestor Shufrych. The tape was leaked online. In her microblog on Twitter Tymoshenko acknowledged that the telephone conversation took place indeed.

Record of a two-minute conversation appeared on the video sharing site YouTube, which was as well posted on the website of the TV channel RT.

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_25/Ukraines-Tymoshenko-threatens-not-to-leave-from-Russia-even-scorched-earth-5618/

Tymoshenko could be imprisoned for five years for incitement "to return Crimea to its place."
"I am ready myself to take a gun now and go shoot ..." says a woman's voice after her companion mentions the situation in Crimea. Later she mentions the urge to use weapons against Russians, for which she uses a harsh word, followed by the replica of the recognition of the absence of power capacity of the authorities of Ukraine.
"I hope that I will get all my connections and I will raise the whole world, as soon as I can, so that there is not even scorched earth left from Russia" adds Tymoshenko.
"The conversation took place," wrote the ex-prime minister on her page on Twitter. She also apologized for her harsh words, RIA Novosti reported.

Shufrych's press service flatly contradicted Tymoshenko, slamming the tape as fake. The press release reads "The conversation didn't take place," as quoted by korrespondent.net.The phone conversation with Nestor Shufrych, former deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, was uploaded on YouTube on Monday by user Sergiy Vechirko<

The voter turnout at the referendum on the status of the Crimea in Sevastopol reached 85 percent Moscow time at 20:00 pm Moscow time (18:00 local time, 16:00 GMT), chairman of the city election committee Valery Medvedev told journalists.

The data of the voter turnout was processed by the city election committee and passed on to journalists.

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_16/Voter-turnout-in-Sevastopol-reaches-85-at-16-00-GMT-election-committee-5480/

40% of Crimean Tatars take part in referendum – Crimean PM

About 40 percent of Crimean Tatars took part in the referendum, Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov said on Channel 1. More than a half of the 5,000-strong community of Crimean Tatars in the main naval port city of Sevastopol took part in Sunday's referendum on determining the future status of Crimea, Lenur Usmanov, a spokesman for the community said.

"The data we have indicates that more than 50 percent of Crimean Tatars living in Sevastopol came to the polling stations Sunday," he said. "We also have the information that most of them voted in favor of reunification with Russia."
Usmanov said the turnout of Tatars at the polls would have been bigger had it not been for the position taken by the Mejlis (Council of Representatives) of the Crimean Tatar people.
"We have the information that Mejlis representatives would stop people at the doors of the polling stations and would try to discourage them from voting but the Crimean Tatar community of Sevastopol finds actions of this kind to be unfruitful," he said. 
By the closure of the polling stations in Sevastopol at 20:00 hours local time, the voters turnout at the polls was around 90 percent. Preliminary results of the voting in the city will be announced at around 22:30 East European Standard Time (20:30 GMT).
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_16/40-of-Crimean-Tatars-take-part-in-referendum-Crimean-PM-2361/

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_16/40-of-Crimean-Tatars-take-part-in-referendum-Crimean-PM-2361/

 No serious abuse recorded at Crimean referendum - Observers

International observers monitoring the Sunday referendum in Crimea have registered no major violation, the Crimean News Agency reported. "The observers did not register serious violations. Every resident of the peninsula had a chance to freely express his opinion," the report says.

A total of 135 observers from 23 countries of the world and 240 observers from Crimean public organizations and political parties monitored the Crimean referendum.

Some 2,500 officers from the interior ministry, the emergency situations ministry and volunteers ensured security during the referendum.
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_16/No-serious-abuse-recorded-at-Crimean-referendum-observers-2977/

93% of voters suppport Crimea's accession to Russia – exit polls

Polling stations in Crimea have closed, the referendum is over. According to the exit polls, 93% of people voted for Crimea's accession to Russia at the referendum.

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_16/93-of-voters-suppport-Crimeas-accession-to-Russia-exit-polls-8596/

People actively vote around Crimea - head of referendum organizing commission 

All of the 1,205 polling stations have opened in Crimea, Mikhail Malyshev, chairman of the commission in charge of preparations for the referendum in Crimea, said. "We have received information that all of the 1,205 polling stations have opened and are now working," he told a press conference in Simferopol on Sunday morning.

Malyshev said there are some problems caused by the weather conditions in the Chernomorsky district, where land phone lines are temporarily not working, and two polling stations in the Belogorsky district (Districts 54 and 55) have no power supply, but Krymenergo brigades are already on their way there. He also said one station in the Belogorsky district opened late, but it is now working.
"People actively come to cast their votes at the referendum. Monitors have left for the polling stations and territories where they planned to go and no obstacles are created," Malyshev said.
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_16/People-actively-vote-around-Crimea-head-of-referendum-organizing-commission-8992/

Crimean Legitimate independence referendum under UN Charter begins today.

People in Crimea get today a chance to decide on their future: whether to stay as a part of Ukraine on conditions of wide autonomy or become an integral part of Russia. According to polls of 600 residents taken Thursday and Friday ahead of the referendum, 70% of the residents said they will vote to become part of Russia, while 11 percent said they will vote to restore Crimea’s status as part of Ukraine.

The polling stations of 27 regional Crimea election commissions are going to be open all day long, starting from 8am till 8pm (0600 GMT- 1800 GMT). Up to 1.5 million – this is the number of ballots printed for the referendum – Crimea citizens are expected come to cast their votes in favor of independence or against it. 

Moreover, Crimean authorities stated that 135registered international observers from 23 EU countries had come to follow the elections themselves. 
Members of the EU and national European parliaments, international law experts and human rights activists together with 1,240 local observers are monitoring the voting at ballot stations. Mass media in the peninsula is represented by 623 accredited journalists from 169 international media outlets.
Recently, more than 10 000 members of the region’s military formed self-defense squads, and over 5,000 police officers are ensuring the referendum goes smoothly.
Crimean referendum fully in line with UN Charter - Russian FM Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry on the phone that the referendum in the Crimea is fully in line with the UN Charter and its result will become a departing point in determining the future of the peninsula, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website in Facebook reports.
Lavrov also called Kerry’s attention to the responsibility of the current Ukrainian authorities for curbing the orgy of ultranationalist and radical groups terrorizing otherwise-minded people, the Russian-speaking population.
Lavrov and Kerry agreed to maintain further working contacts on Ukrainian problems.
US refuses to listen to voice of reason over Ukraine crisis - Moscow
The US has refused to listen to the voice of reason when they submitted their draft resolution on the Ukrainian crisis to the UN Security Council, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said. "We repeatedly reminded our western partners and particularly the US that not very well-thought actions are counterproductive. The US draft resolution submitted to the UN Security Council proved the United States refused to listen to the voice of reason. And that was the motive for Russia to veto the draft resolution which wasn't approved," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement reads.
"Unfortunately, it is not stability in the country or the security and well-being of its citizens that Washington cares about. It keeps using Cold War categories, which were seemed bygone, in an attempt to impose its own vision of the political system in Ukraine," the ministry said.
"We hope that the UN member states that have so far demonstrated a biased and confrontational approach in connection with the situation in Ukraine, including during the discussion of this matter in the UN Security Council, will find the strength to embark on the path of constructive cooperation in the interests of long-term settlement of the situation and ensuring the full range of interests of Ukrainian citizens, including the population of eastern and southeastern regions of the country," the ministry added.
US willing to politicize situation in Ukraine as much as possible - Moscow
The US is willing to politicize the situation in Ukraine as much as possible, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated earlier today.
"On March 15 the UN Security Council hold a vote on the US draft resolution on the situation in Ukraine," a Foreign Ministry satement says.
"By itself, this initiative was unfounded from the very beginning: the events in Ukraine are not a threat to the international peace and security," it continues.
"The American side's step can be explained only by an overwhelming desire to politicize an already difficult situation for the sake of its own geopolitical interests", the Foreign Ministry added.
Russia vetoes UN resolution on Crimea, China abstains
Russia has vetoed a Western-backed resolution condemning the Crimea referendum at a UN Security Council emergency vote Saturday but China abstained from the vote. The draft resolution, which says Sunday's referendum would have no validity, got 13 votes in the 15-member Council. But it was rejected when permanent member Russia exercised its veto.
"It is a secret to no one that the Russian Federation will vote against the resolution," Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council in opening remarks before the vote.
"We can not go along with [the resolution's] basic assumption that is declaring illegal the ... planned referendum," Vitaly Churkin added.
He defended Sunday's referendum as necessary to fill the "legal vacuum" that arose "as a result of an unconstitutional coup d'etat in Ukraine."
China often backs Russia at the council, especially on Syria-related votes, and Western diplomats had seen its abstention as the best possible outcome from Saturday's vote.
When the Security Council ruled on a similar international crisis, between Russia and Georgia in 2008, Beijing abstained. Saturday's emergency meeting was called at Washington's request and the resolution had been drafted by the United States in very measured terms so that it could be accepted by Beijing.
The resolution declared that the referendum on Crimea has "no validity and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea."
Members of the council that voted in favour of the resolution - including the United States - condemned the Russian veto.
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_16/Crimean-independence-referendum-begins-today-0424/

 Russian Rouble may start circulating in Crimea March 18-19 - PM Aksyonov 

Dual currency circulation of the Russian rouble and the Ukrainian hryvnia may be introduced in Crimea (autonomy within Ukraine) for a transitional period already next week, March 18 or 19, if the decision is made to join Russia, Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said on Saturday, March 15.

The referendum to be held in Crimea on March 16 will have to decide whether its residents want to join Russia to stay within Ukraine.

Aksyonov also said that residents of Crimea would be able to keep their Ukrainian passports if they acquire Russian citizenship upon accession to Russia.
“Dual citizenship is not prohibited in Russia,” he said.

An election silence day begins Saturday in the Autonomous Ukrainian Republic of Crimea, where most residents are Russians, and the city of Sevastopol, which has a special status in Ukraine, prior to the March 16 secession referendum.

“However, being guided by international standards of organization of the voting process, including referendums, we decided that there should be ‘a day of silence’,” Polonsky said.
He said it means that Crimean media, including television, would see no campaigning for the autonomy to become or not become part of Russia, but that there would be no ban on urging residents to vote.
Nor will there be any restrictions on street billboards some of which have images of flowers, ribbons with Russian tricolor flags and inscriptions “Choose a worthy future.”
Read more: 

Two people dead and two injured in Ukraine's Kharkov clashes 

Two people died and two were injured in a conflict between the residents of Kharkov and militants from the Right Sector (radical Ukrainian group), Mayor of Kharkov Gennady Kernes reported today.

An Itar-Tass correspondent reports that 40-50 militants are in the building hosting the Right Sector headquarters. The police cordoned off the building, and a special operation is underway. The mayor is holding talks with radicals.

A representative of the local movement against Maidan protests told an Itar-Tass correspondent earlier today that clashes were underway between Kharkov residents and militants reportedly from western Ukraine on Rymarskaya Street (in downtown Kharkov).
The activist said Kharkov defenders were standing against militants, presumably from the Right Sector, who were shooting from assault rifles. Reports also said fire was delivered and stun grenades and Molotov cocktails thrown from the windows of the building hosting the Right Sector headquarters.
Maidan is the name for downtown Kiev's Independence Square, which is the symbol of Ukrainian protests. The word “Maidan” is also used as a collective name for anti-government protests in Ukraine.
Right Sector activists were reportedly involved in clashes with police in Ukraine’s anti-government protests that started in November 2013 when the country’s authorities refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
The Ukrainian protests led to a coup in the country in February. President Viktor Yanukovich had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns. Yanukovich told reporters in south Russia on Tuesday that he remained the legitimate Ukrainian president despite “an anti-constitutional seizure of power by armed radicals.

 Clashes erupt in Ukraine's Kharkov, 3 anti-Maidan activists injured

Clashes have occurred in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov between city residents and militants reportedly from western Ukraine, a representative of the local movement against Maidan protests said.

“Clashes are underway on Rymarskaya Street [in downtown Kharkov]. Kharkov defenders are standing against militants, presumably from the Right Sector. The visitors are shooting from assault rifles,” the activist told an Itar-Tass correspondent.

Fire is delivered from the windows of a building hosting the headquarters of the Right Sector radical organization. Stun grenades and Molotov cocktails are being thrown from the second floor of the building. Three people from among anti-Maidan activists are reported to have been injured.
Police squads have arrived at the site of the clashes.
Donetsk clashes: 22-year-old victim identified, 28 injured
One person was killed and 28 injured in a clash between participants of a pro-Russia rally and the For United Ukraine protesters on Lenin Square in Donetsk on Thursday night, the health department of the Donetsk Regional State Administration reports. The victim was identified by local media as Dmytro Chernyavskiy, an activist with the local branch of the Svoboda nationalist party.
Two victims were provided with medical assistance on the scene, they later chose to go home. Two others were transported to a regional accident hospital, one was brought to municipal hospital №17, 11 people now remain in the neurosurgery department of the Kalinin hospital. One person was killed, a male resident of Donetsk who died in an ambulance from knife wounds. 22-year-old Dmitry Cherniavsky was an activist and former spokesman for the Donetsk regional organization Svoboda.
The acting President of Ukraine, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Aleksandr Turchynov gave the Interior Ministry an urgent order to immediately arrest and punish those responsible for the murder and inflicting bodily injuries in Donetsk on March 13.
Crisis in Ukraine: one killed in Donetsk in clashes between rival rallies
A 22-year old citizen of the Ukrainian city of Donetsk was killed in clashes that erupted between Maidan protesters armed with batons and peaceful demonstrators chanting pro-Russian slogans. More than a dozen were injured as violence ensued after participants broke through a police barrier in the centre of the city. Tensions swelled in the Ukrainian industrial center of Donetsk on Thursday, where the Russian-speaking population has been rallying in support of creating an eastern Ukrainian autonomy and against the decisions of the controversialy appointed caretaker government in Kiev.
According to hospital sources the 22-year-old man was stabbed. News media reports, the man was just a passerby who didn't participate in demonstrations. This is the first death reported outside the capital during the recent violence triggered by the political crisis in Ukraine.
It was unclear who started the clashes, as protesters broke through a police cordon keeping the two sides apart.
According to local media reports pro-Maidan activists started provoking the pro-Russian crowd, by shouting far-right slogans “Glory to Ukraine” and “Glory to heroes”, loudly demanding respect for Ukrainian territorial sovereignty.
"According to preliminary conclusions by doctors, a man has been stabbed," the local branch of Ukraine's health ministry said, as regional authorities spoke of 17 wounded in the clashes.
Donetsk is the Ukrainian industrial center. A rally of Ukraine’s integrity supporters was taking place in the city at the same time and place as the anti-government protest.
According to the newspaper Novosti Donbassa ("The News of Donbass City"), three people were taken to a hospital neurosurgery department after the clashes. The 22-year-old male died in the ambulance. Seventeen people were administered first aid on the scene, and 11 were taken to intensive care at a local hospital, according to the newspaper.
Authorities in Donetsk are requesting a referendum to widen the eastern industrial region's autonomy. Donetsk has a large Russian-speaking population.

UN Security Council vote Saturday on Ukraine resolution

The UN Security Council will meet in an emergency session Saturday to vote on a Western-backed resolution denouncing the upcoming referendum in Ukraine's Crimea, diplomats said Friday.

The meeting, which is set to begin at 11:00 am (1500 GMT), was called at Washington's request.
Diplomats say they expect Russia to veto the resolution.
Crimea doesn't need independence, must be part of Russia - Crimean PM
The Crimean authorities do not consider the possibility of proclaiming independence of the republic according to "the Abkhazian version". They believe that the process of joining the Russian Federation will take about a year, Prime Minister of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov says.
"I think that the transition period will take about a year, after that we will be fully able to enjoy all the processes, benefits as part of the Russian Federation," Aksyonov said at a briefing in Simferopol.
He gave a negative answer to a question about a possibility of "the Abkhazian version".
"No, we will not have independence. We currently believe, I personally think that Crimea should join Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation," he said.
Turnout can't affect referendum legitimacy - Crimean authorities
The forthcoming Crimea referendum will prove legitimate whatever the turnout, Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said in a statement.
He said he was certain that over 80% of voters would turn up at polling stations to cast their ballots.
"Since we have no election threshold, the referendum will prove legal in any event", Aksyonov told a news conference on Friday.
Crimea ready to resist provocations on referendum day - Crimean PM
The Crimean authorities are certain that no provocations, such as cutting power in the region, will occur, though they have taken all anti-crisis measures necessary, Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said.
"The grounds to cut power supplies or other sources of power generation for Crimean residents do not exist because no debts to supplying companies exist. Everything is paid for fully and, as of today, in accordance with the Ukrainian law," Aksyonov said at a briefing in Simferopol on Friday.
"Any cuts could be done solely out of spite in order to do something bad to Crimean residents," Aksyonov said. "We have developed anti-crisis proposals, sites covered with concrete are completely ready and over 900 generators, which will allow us to supply power to people with no disruption, have been purchased," he said.
"Common sense will win in Kyiv and they will not take silly steps because this will not change the situation but will be quite unfair in terms of financial and economic relations," Aksyonov said.
Russian troops in Crimea not involved in 'active measures' - PM Aksyonov
Crimea's prime minister on Friday confirmed the presence of Russian troops in the Ukrainian region but denied they are "taking part in any active measures."
"There have always been Russian troops here, ever since Suvorov and Kutuzov," Sergei Aksyonov told a news conference, referring to Russia's 18th-century Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov and Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, commander of the Russian Army during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in the early 19th century. "However, the Russian forces are not taking part in any active measures," Aksyonov said.
"All the blockings and the maintenance of public order are being done by the self-defense forces and Interior Ministry personnel of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and by the security service."
"With regard to some vital economic facilities, we coordinate our actions with the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, no more than that," Aksyonov said.

EuroMaidan nationalist killed in east Ukraine rally clash

A EuroMaidan nationalist was stabbed and killed Thursday in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk, as demonstrators were attacked by a pro-Moscow rally, health services said. "According to preliminary conclusions by doctors, he has been stabbed," the local branch of Ukraine's health ministry said, as regional authorities spoke of 17 wounded in the clashes.

Euromaidan protestors start fight with pro-Russia activists in Donetsk

Euromaidan protestors started a fight with pro-Russia activists during their mass-meeting in Donetsk. A peaceful mass-meeting turned into a clash, that was hardly controlled by Ukrainian law enforcers.
Euromaidan protestors suddenly appeared, witnesses say. In the very beginning they behaved calmly, but then began to throw petards.

Police tried to arrest several pro-Russian activists, but had to set them free due to the crowd's pressure.

The police is trying to establish order, but pressure from the part of provokers is growing. The latter throw stones and steel bars. Someone urges to turn over the busses, where the police keep arrested people. The activists reached the buss with arrested people and called upon the police to set these people free. The police reinforced a defensive formation around the buss, but they can hardly contain the activists. 
There is no medical staff on the square, LifeNews journalists says. Wounded people can't get any medical aid. People use gas sprays. The number of wounded people is unknown.
Ambulances have just arrived at the square. Activists begin to leave the place. There is no threat of serious disorders.
Members of two mass-meetings – the Euromaidan supporters and pro-Russian activists gathered on the Lenin Square in Donetsk. Pro-Russian activists claim that the Euromaidan protestors came on the mass-meeting with particular purposes.
The police has created a reinforced cordon and protect the order thoroughly. Both parties of the mass-meeting comprises one thousand people, the source reports.
"This is an evident provocation. They could have organized a mass-meeting somewhere else," pro-Russian activist says.
Evgeni Dinyanskiy, Head of the non-governmental organization "South-Eastern initiative", told about the members of the pro-Ukrainian mass-meeting.
"In fact, there is no pro-Ukrainian party as it's very small. This is an evident provocation, as someone has sent students there. These students were imposed a condition –whether they go on the mass-meeting or they will be sent down from their universities.

 Ukraine's Right Sector radical group plotted to bomb Crimean cafe - Russian lawmaker 

A senior Russian lawmaker claimed on Thursday that activists of Ukraine's radical Right Sector group had plotted to bomb a cafe in Crimea but that the conspiracy had been foiled.

"It has become known now that members of the right-wing bloc have been detected and arrested who wanted to blow up the Shaiba private cafe, which appeared not far from Yalta back in the days of [Soviet leader Nikita] Khrushchev. A bomb disposal team found an explosive device there," Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, the chairman of the State Duma's Defense Committee and commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in 1998-2002, told a roundtable in Moscow.
He also claimed that a group of tanks that had arrived from the Lviv area had been detected in southern Ukraine.
"The situation is very difficult. The main task of the right-wing bloc is to thwart the referendum in Crimea by whatever means it can," he said.
However, he ruled out the possibility of any intervention by the Ukrainian Navy.
"I rule out any combat activity on the part of the Ukrainian navy because of the non-battle readiness of its units and ships," he said.

US President Obama, Ukraine's PM Yatsenyuk appeal to Russia to resume dialogue

"We have been very firm in saying we will stand with Ukraine to ensure that its territorial integrity and sovereignty is maintained," Obama said during his meeting with Yatsenyuk.
But Obama also extended a face-saving possibility for Moscow, saying that everyone recognizes the close historic ties between Russia and Ukraine. The new Ukrainian government has a constitutional process that "could in fact over time lead to different relations with the Crimea region."
"But that is not something that can be done with the barrel of a gun pointed at you," Obama said.
US President Obama meets Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk
US President Barack Obama has held a high-profile White House meeting with Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in a calculated display of the West's backing – moral, financial and diplomatic – for the embattled new government in Kiev.
The Oval Office session, four days before the referendum in Crimea on whether the territory should rejoin Russia, was intended to send a clear message to the Kremlin.
The Obama-Yatsenyuk meeting demonstrates the fact "that we strongly support the Ukrainian people," and its territorial integrity and sovereignty, White House spokesman Jay Carney said before the two leaders were to meet.
Yatsenyuk met earlier Wednesday with Secretary of State John Kerry, telling reporters he would "answer later" whether he supports a nation-wide referendum on the future of Crimea as opposed to the local provincial one being held Sunday with Russian backing.
In another development, Senator John McCain is to lead a congressional delegation to Ukraine on Thursday to meet with government leaders, according to The Daily Beast newspaper.

Crimean leaders blame Kiev for selling Ukraine off for IMF loans

Crimea's deputy prime minister, Olga Kovitidi, described as predatory the terms of an agreement Kiev is ready to accept from the International Monetary Fund.

The tentative agreement with the IMF which the Ukrainian authorities signed with the IMF on March 2, says that the country's entire gas pipeline system will be handed over for free in the American company Chevron's ownership the moment the basic agreement is signed, while the owners of the Mariupol, Zaporizhzhya and Dnipropetrovsk steel mills will be obliged to surrender their 50% stakes to Germany's Ruhr.

The Donbass coal industry will be handed over to Ruhr's subsidiary in Finland, she told Interfax on Sunday, citing media reports.
It emerged recently that Kyiv has pledged to make territory available near Kharkiv to host US missile defense systems and a wing of American fighter jets to provide cover for the missile defense installations, she also said.
Ukraine's interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has assured the West that Kiev will fulfill all of the IMF's terms in order to secure a loan, Kovitidi said.
The Crimean leaders have also learned that Kyiv promised the West to take a package of unpopular measures in order to fill gaps in the Ukrainian budget, she said. Gas prices for municipal companies will have to be increased by 50% and for private will double.
Electricity tariffs will be raised by 40%, housing utility tariffs will be raised, too, gasoline excises will go up 60% and transportation tariffs 50%, while state support for childbirth will be cancelled, the free distribution of textbooks will be annulled at schools and the VAT relief will be scrapped in rural regions, she said.
Concurrently, VAT will be introduced on medications, which will push up prices and bring citizens' living standards down," Kovitidi said.
"The planned annulment of the moratorium on the sale of farmland looks appalling. The selloff of Ukraine's black soil zone, including to foreign countries, may have disastrous economic and social consequences," she said.
Kovitidi said that the Crimean legislature's decision to hold a referendum on March 16 was correct.
"The recent developments in Ukraine and the decisions being made have a direct bearing on the people of Crimea, who must know the truth and decide their own and their children's future in a referendum," she said.

 Ukraine redeploys hardware due to preparations for war games - Ukrainian Defence Ministry

The redeployment of weapons and military equipment in some Ukrainian regions is taking place due to preparations for a military exercise, a source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry said on Saturday, commenting on the information in the media.

The source said that a large-scale exercise is to take place on certain shooting grounds of the Ukrainian armed forces and preparations are in full swing now. 

Earlier, the media reported that 50 armoured personnel carriers had left a troop unit in Zhitomir and a column of similar vehicles had left a unit in Lvov.

 Mikhail Khodorkovsky to visit Ukraine, give lecture on "rights and freedoms"

Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is arriving in Kiev on Monday and will give a lecture on "rights and freedoms" in Ukraine's capital the same day, his spokeswoman said on Saturday. 

Khodorvkovsky would speak to students at the National University of Technology, but anyone wishing to attend the lecture, to start at noon, would be able to, Olga Pispanen added.
Pispanen said Khodorkovsky had no meetings planned besides the lecture but might meet with civil activists.

 Hollande, Obama warn Russia of 'new measures' if Ukraine crisis not defused.

Presidents Francois Hollande of France and Barack Obama of the United States on Saturday warned of "new measures" against Russia if it fails to make progress on defusing the crisis in Ukraine, the French presidency said.

In a phone call on Saturday, Hollande and Obama insisted on the "need for Russia to withdraw forces sent to Crimea since the end of February and to do everything to allow the deployment of international observers," it said.

"If there's a lack progress in this direction, new measures will be taken which would noticeably affect relations between the international community and Russia, which is in no-one's interest," it said.

Ukraine's government will not be able to block a planned referendum in Crimea on March 16 at which the local population would be asked whether it wanted the region to remain part of Ukraine or would prefer it to be part of Russia, a senior member of Crimea's legislature said.

Kiev's efforts to thwart the plebiscite are something that "can only happen in a non-state such as modern Ukraine," parliament first deputy chairman Grigory Ioffe told reporters.
In a comment on reports that today's lists of voters are obsolete, Ioffe said: "We have found a mechanism to renew them, and today everything's OK with them."
He explained that all that one would need to be allowed to vote was to show the entry in one's passport on one's residence registration. He also said the referendum organizing commission "has just approved the exterior and content of the referendum ballot."
"I think it will be shown in the news this evening," he added.

Kharkov activists hold anti-fascist march

Some of the participants of the rally in support of Russia at Freedom Square in Kharkov on Saturday have decided to hold an anti-fascist march at the end of the rally.

About under 1.5 thousand people went towards Constitution Square carryong the Russian flags, various media sources report.

Part of the protesters stayed to listen to the speakers. Prior to this, the protesters held a rally in front of the Kharkov regional state administration, which is guarded by a large number of policemen. People approached to the policemen, chanting 'Berkut', 'Kharkov', 'Referendum', 'Russia', 'Sevastopol", 'Kharkov be strong and give fasciststhe bum's rush', "Baluta, come out" etc.
Neither the newly appointed Head of Kharkov Regional State Administration Igor Baluta, nor his subordinates came out to the protesters.
Some protesters inserted white tulips and tied St. George ribbons to the shields of policemen standing in the first row.
Police estimated a total number of about 6000 people who participated in the rally at Liberty Square. Law enforcers did not prevent the rally and march, although notice of its conduct have not been submitted in the Kharkov city council. 

Breaking - Kiev snipers hired by new coalition, not Yanukovych - Estonian FM to Ashton (AUDIO)

The snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders, according to a leaked phone conversation between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister, which has emerged online.

"There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition," Paet said during the conversation.
"I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh," Ashton answered.
The call took place after Estonia’s FM Urmas Paet visited Kiev on February 25 at the peak of clashes between the pro-EU protesters and security forces in the Ukrainian capital.
Paet also recalled his conversation with a doctor who treated those shot by snipers in Kiev. She said that both protesters and police were shot at by the same people.
"And second, what was quite disturbing, this same Olga [Bogomolets] told as well that all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides," the Estonian FM stressed.
Ashton reacted to the information by saying: "Well, yeah…that’s, that’s terrible."
"So that she then also showed me some photos she said that as a medical doctor she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened," Paet said.

Ukraine has accused Russia of violating the Budapest Memorandum and sending 16,000 troops to the autonomous republic of Crimea in the country’s southeast. The accusation caused frenzy in the Western media over the alleged “Russian invasion,” mixed with mild interest about the contents of the mentioned agreement. The truth is that the 1997 deal allows the Russian Navy to keep up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems, 132 armored vehicles and 22 jets on Crimean territory. So what is the "Budapest Memorandum" and what does it have to do with Crimea?

The "Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances" is an international agreement that was concluded on 5 December 1994 as part of Ukraine’s denuclearization after it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement to guarantee its security and integrity after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

• The signatories were Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom
• Under the memorandum, the US, the UK and Russia pledged to respect Ukraine’ssovereignty, territorial integrity and its existing borders.
• They also pledged that none of them would ever use coercion to subordinate Ukraine territorially or politically.
• The signatories vowed to consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.
• As of 2014, this memorandum has not been ratified, which means it is not a legally-binding international agreementand there are no means to enforce it.
The Budapest Memorandum on security assurances in exchange for denuclearization cannot be applied to the new Ukrainian governmentthat came to power as a result of a revolution, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has said.
“Whenever we point out it was an anti-constitutional coup, they say, no it is not an armed seizure of power, it is a revolution. So, since it’s a revolution I cannot help but agree with some our experts who believe that a new state has emerged on this territory, and we’ve signed no legally-binding agreements either with this new state or on it,” President Putin emphasized at a press meeting on 4 March 2014.
The President compared the recent events in Ukraine to the Russian Revolution in 1917, when the Russian Empire gave way to a new Soviet state.
Analysts say the “Budapest Memorandum” is not a formal agreement but a diplomatic document wherein signatories exchanged promises concerning disarmament of the former Soviet republics.
“That's actually a much more complex question than it may sound. It is binding in international law, but that doesn't mean it has any means of enforcement,” says Barry Kellman, a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University's College of Law.
“The 'Budapest Memorandum' follows the Helsinki Final Act and essentially reiterates its provisions. There are confidence building measures and then a host of other broader obligations – primarily negative obligations. Don't interfere.”
Prof. Kellman believes that there are a slew of other sources of international law that oblige Russia to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity, including the provisions of the CSCE treaty and the UN Charter.
Other experts say it was Ukraine that first violated the memorandum.
• The Crimean Peninsula and its key port city of Sevastopol were beyond the Ukrainian sovereignty at the time when the “Budapest Memorandum” was signed on 5 December 1994. Article 1 of the Crimean Constitution of 6 May 1992 described Crimea as a democratic rule-of-law state that had its sovereign rights and exercised full authority over its territory.
• Article 7 stipulates that the territory of the Crimean Republic is inviolable and cannot be changed without its consent. Sevastopol is granted a special status as unalienable part of Crimea under the Republic’s relevant legal acts, which cannot be altered without the consent of its citizens.
• Article 111 of the 1992 Constitution says that the Crimea’s Supreme Council’s exclusive right is to adopt, amend and extend its Constitution, constitutional and other types of laws of the Republic. Only the Republic’s Parliament can be entitled to annul the Crimean Constitution of 1992 by a special law.
• The regime of Ukraine’s President Leonid Kuchma abolished unilaterally and by force the 1992 Constitution on 17 March 1995. It also dismissed Crimea’s elected President Yuri Meshkov, in what should be referred to as a coup d’état. Ukraine failed to consult the signatories of the “Budapest Memorandum” on its actions.
• On 17 May 1995, the Russian Lower House issued a resolution that advised the Supreme Council, the Ukrainian President and Government to allow the people of Crimea to put the Crimean Constitution to a referendum, but Kiev ignored Moscow’s initiative.
These are just a few of legal details that the West has chosen to turn a deaf ear to when covering the Ukrainian crisis. It also claimed that Russia had sent thousands of troops to the Crimean republic, ignoring the fact that these armed forces have been there since the late 1990s under a bilateral agreement that allows Russia to keep a 25,000-strong force in Crimea.
Russia’s foreign chief Sergei Lavrov underscored that Russia’s military “strictly executes the agreements which stipulate the Russian fleet’s presence in Ukraine, and follows the stance and claims coming from the legitimate authority in Ukraine and in this case the legitimate authority of the Autonomous Republic Crimea as well.”
Some other details of this rarely-cited deal are:
•The Black Sea Fleet has been disputed between Russia and Ukraine since the dissolution of the Soviet Union  in 1991. In 1997, they finally managed to strike common ground and signed three agreements dividing  military bases and other assets in Crimea. Russia got 81.7 percent of the fleet’s ships after paying the  Ukrainian government a compensation of $526.5 million.
• Russia also annually writes off $97.75 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequency resources.
• The 1997 deal allows the Russian navy to keep up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems, 132 armored vehicles and 22 jets on Crimean territory.
• There are currently five Russian naval units deployed in Sevastopol onthe Crimean peninsula
• Russia also has two airbases in Crimea, in the towns of Kacha and Gvardeysky.
• The Russian coast guard in Ukraine consists of the 1096th Separate Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment in         Sevastopol and the 810th Marine Brigade that have around 2,000 marines.
Last week, Russia’s Upper House approved President Putin’s request to temporarily send the country’s military to Ukraine to ensure peace in the region. However, Putin hasn’t yet made the final decision, stressing that deploying military force would be a last resort. 
Meanwhile, authorities of the autonomous Crimean republic – where more than half the population is Russian – pleaded for help with Moscow after the Ukrainian regime in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of languages other than Ukrainian in official circumstances

Putin's advisor Glazyev 'not authorized' to speak on Cabinet behalf – Kremlin
The Kremlin has expressed its surprise over remarks of President Putin’s economic security advisor Sergei Glazyev who claimed today Russia could easily dodge US sanctions. Russian media have learnt this from a senior official in the Putin administration.

Mr. Glazyev said earlier today that Russia would be forced to switch to other currencies and set up its own payment system if US Senate were to sanction it over Ukraine.

The advisor claimed that Moscow would recommend everyone to get rid of their US Treasury bonds if the United States froze the assets of Russian public institutions and private investors. He added that Russia would also have to default on its loans to American banks.
"Mr. Glazyev has not been authorized to talk on behalf of the Russian government and especially to voice such unacceptable measures," the source in the Kremlin said. He stressed it was Glazyev's "personal opinion" that had nothing to do with Russia's official stance.

Russian State Duma deputies see statements by US officials on possible financial sanctions against Russia because of the situation in Ukraine as blackmail.

"The US political and financial blackmail in relation to Russia is in fact aimed at supporting fascists and extremists who have illegally seized power in Ukraine and are forcing our country to stop defending our compatriots and fellow-countrymen," State Duma security and anti-corruption committee head Irina Yarovaya told journalists on Tuesday.
 "Those who support terrorists and extremists become criminals themselves," she said.
Russia is acting strictly in line with its constitution and international law, she said.
"You don't have to be a politician, a lawyer, or a specialist in international relations to answer whether you can abandon your compatriots, people close to you or your family members for money," Yarovaya said.
Oleg Lebedev of the United Russia party faction, first deputy head of the Duma committee on CIS affairs and relations with fellow-countrymen, said that Moscow "has supported its compatriots and will continue to support them, despite any obstacles that are being put in our way."
"Russia will continue to stick to the same political and economic position that it has been doing so far. And we aren't going to change our course toward supporting our compatriots abroad," the United Russia party press service quoted Lebedev as saying.
"It's for sure that people are more important for us than money," he said.
Ivan Kvitka, a deputy head of the Duma international affairs committee, believes sanctions against Russia would affect not only Russia as such but also other countries, including European ones, especially when it comes to energy supplies through Europe.
"If something is blocked somewhere, this could have an effect at an absolutely different place, both in Europe and in Asia.
The economy consists of various links of the same chain.
Therefore, it's unlikely that they could venture do this, not to mention on a large scale," Kvitka said in commenting on reports that the US Senate was considering sanctions against Russian banks, including the freezing of Russian government institutions' and private investors' assets.
Kerry arrives in Kiev, US to offer $1 billion to Ukraine
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev on Tuesday and announced an economic package and technical assistance for Ukraine in a show of support for its new government. A senior US administration official, who briefed reporters en route to Kiev, said the Obama administration would work with Congress to approve $1 billion in loan guarantees to help lessen the impact on Ukrainians of proposed energy subsidy cuts.
During his short stopover, Kerry was expected to meet with Ukraine's interim president Oleksandr Turchynov and new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
While on the ground, Kerry was planning to pay homage to the dozens of protesters who died February 20 in anti-government demonstrations.
As Kerry arrived, the White House announced the package of energy aid, along with training for financial and election institutions and anti-corruption efforts. US officials traveling with Kerry, speaking on grounds of anonymity, said the Obama administration is considering imposing unspecified economic sanctions on Russia as soon as this week.
Additionally, the officials said, the US has suspended what was described as a narrow set of discussions with Russia over a bilateral trade investment treaty. It is also going to provide technical advice to the Ukraine government about its trade rights with Russia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be quoted by name before the official announcement was made.
US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement Tuesday the government was "working with Congress and the government of Ukraine to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees, the proceeds of which will be aimed at protecting the most vulnerable Ukrainian households from the impact of the needed economic adjustment."
"At the same time, the US is moving very quickly to provide technical expertise to help the national bank of Ukraine and the finance ministry address their most pressing challenges," an official travelling with Kerry said.

Major Russian cities to host rallies in support of Ukrainian people

Rallies in support of the "brotherly people of Ukraine" will be held in several Russian cities on Tuesday. According to reports posted on social networking websites, such actions will begin on Mamayev Hill in Volgograd at 17:00 pm (13:00 GMT), on Teatralnaya Square in Voronezh at 17:00 pm (13:00 GMT), at the Trud Stadium in Irkutsk at 5:00 pm, on Peace Square in Kostroma at 5:00 pm, and on Teatralnaya Square in Rostov-on-Don at 16:00 pm (12:00 GMT).

The press service of the Kamchatka Territory government reported earlier that a similar rally would be staged by the regional branch of the nationwide organization Commonwealth on Lenin Square, in the center of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

"We would like to offer our words of support to this brotherly nation, the Ukrainians and our compatriots who live in this country. It is a fraternal nation. Many of our friends and relatives live in Ukraine, which has found itself in an extremely dire situation today. We also want to support our president who seeks to protect our compatriots in Ukraine," Commonwealth regional branch leader Vitaly Kibalov was quoted as saying by the press service.
The Motorists Association of Kamchatka announced plans to hold such a rally as well.
"We call on all motorists of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to join our action at noon on Wednesday and to honk in a gesture of solidarity with the people of Ukraine," the union said in its address.
Rallies in support of the "brotherly people of Ukraine" will be held in several Russian cities on Tuesday. According to reports posted on social networking websites, such actions will begin on Mamayev Hill in Volgograd at 17:00 pm (13:00 GMT), on Teatralnaya Square in Voronezh at 17:00 pm (13:00 GMT), at the Trud Stadium in Irkutsk at 17:00 pm (13:00 GMT), on Peace Square in Kostroma at 17:00 pm (13:00 GMT), and on Teatralnaya Square in Rostov-on-Don at 16:00 pm (12:00 GMT).

 Russia vows to switch to other currencies over US sanctions threat - Glazyev

Russia can dodge any proposed US sanctions by switching to other currencies and creating its own payment system, Putin’s economic advisor Sergei Glazyev said Tuesday. Senior Kremlin official denounces Putin advisor Glazyev’s remarks on US-Russia economic ties, calling them "personal opinion" inconsistent with Kremlin stance. 

This comes amid US threats to pile sanctions on Russia over its stand on the Ukrainian coup. US Senate is currently debating possible measures against Moscow.
Senator Christ Murphy, the chairman of the Senate's Europe subcommittee, said lawmakers were considering such options as imposing sanctions on Russia's banks and freezing assets of Russian public institutions and private investors.
Sergei Glazyev told reporters today Russia would have to switch to other currencies to curb its dependence on the United States.
"We have wonderful economic and trade relations with our Southern and Eastern partners," he emphasized. "We will find a way not just to eliminate our dependence on the US but also profit from these sanctions."
Sanctions imposed by the US against the Russian government institutions will force Russia to recognize the impossibility of loans repayment to the US banks, Presidential Aide Sergei Glazyev said.
"If sanctions are applied against state structures, we will be forced to recognize the impossibility of repayment of the loans that the US banks gave to the Russian structures. Indeed, sanctions are a double-edged weapon, and if the US chooses to freeze our assets, then our equities and liabilities in dollars will also be frozen. This means that our banks and businesses will not return the loans to American partners," he said.
Russia urges Ukrainian regime to return to legitimacy
Russia will only engage in a dialog with the ruling Ukrainian regime if it "returns to legitimacy," Putin’s senior advisor Sergei Glazyev has said.
"This regime is illegal, it is profoundly Russophobic. Some people in the Ukrainian government, who have seized power by force, are on terrorist lists. They are criminals," Glazyev underscored.
"I cannot imagine us having any serious dialog with criminals, apart from talks that would bring them back into the legal framework, restore the rule of law and make Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, Tyagnibok and European ministers deliver on their promises [made in connection with the Feb. 21 agreements]," he said.

Crimean PM announces creation of regional Navy

Admiral Denis Berezovsky, appointed as head of Ukraine's Navy forces just two days ago, has sworn allegiance to the people of Crimea. Taking his oath, regional Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov announced creating Crimea's Navy.

Ukraine launches treason case against Navy chief who surrendered
Ukraine launched a treason case on Sunday against the head of the navy, who surrendered his headquarters on Sunday in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on only his second day on the job.
Live Updates: Ukraine: total mobilization, combat alert amid Crimea tensions
Denis Berezovsky was shown on Russian television swearing allegiance to the pro-Russian regional leaders of Crimea. Russian forces have seized the Black Sea peninsula and told Ukrainian forces there to give up their weapons.

"During the blockade by Russian forces of the central headquarters of the navy, he declined to offer resistance and laid down his weapons," said Viktoria Syumar, deputy secretary of Ukraine's Security Council.
"The prosecutor's office has opened a criminal case against Denis Berezovsky under statute 111: state treason," she said. Another admiral, Serhiy Hayduk, was placed in charge of the navy.
Ukrainian Navy Commander says he swore allegiance to people of Crimea
Commander of the Ukrainian Naval Forces Denis Berezovsky said Sunday that swore allegiance to the Crimean people. Earlier it was reported that Crimea-stationed Ukrainian troops have switched sides to join forces with local pro-Russia authorities in the Russian-dominated autonomous republic of Crimea. Allegedly the transition was peaceful and without a single shot being fired.
"I, Denis Berezovsky, swear allegiance to the people of Crimea and undertake to protect them, as required by statute," Berezovsky said at a press conference in Sevastopol.

Putin agrees to dialogue with Ukraine 'contact group' - Berlin

Russia's Vladimir Putin has agreed to a proposal from Angela Merkel to set up a contact group on Ukraine, the German government said Sunday.

"President Putin accepted the German chancellor's proposal to immediately establish a commission of enquiry as well as a contact group, possibly under the direction of the OSCE, to open a political dialogue," Berlin said in a statement.

Crimean PM announces creation of regional Navy

Admiral Denis Berezovsky, appointed as head of Ukraine's Navy forces just two days ago, has sworn allegiance to the people of Crimea. Taking his oath, regional Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov announced creating Crimea's Navy.

Ukraine launches treason case against Navy chief who surrendered
Ukraine launched a treason case on Sunday against the head of the navy, who surrendered his headquarters on Sunday in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on only his second day on the job.
Live Updates: Ukraine: total mobilization, combat alert amid Crimea tensions
Denis Berezovsky was shown on Russian television swearing allegiance to the pro-Russian regional leaders of Crimea. Russian forces have seized the Black Sea peninsula and told Ukrainian forces there to give up their weapons.
"During the blockade by Russian forces of the central headquarters of the navy, he declined to offer resistance and laid down his weapons," said Viktoria Syumar, deputy secretary of Ukraine's Security Council.
"The prosecutor's office has opened a criminal case against Denis Berezovsky under statute 111: state treason," she said. Another admiral, Serhiy Hayduk, was placed in charge of the navy.

Ukrainian Armed Forces on full combat alert – Security Council secretary

Ukraine's Armed Forces have been put on full combat alert on the orders of the country's acting President and Verkhovna Rada Speaker Alexander Turchinov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Andrei Paruby said on Sunday.

On March 1, Turchinov issued a decree ordering the Security and Defense Council to take urgent steps to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Clause 3 of the presidential decree stipulates combat training for reservists, and clause 2 cannot be disclosed because it is "secret", Paruby said.
Turchinov ordered the newly-formed Cabinet to allocate the necessary funds for the above measures. The Foreign Ministry was instructed to ask all the signatory states of 1994 Budapest Memorandum to guarantee Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Turchinov demanded tighter security around strategic power generating and other facilities throughout Ukraine.
Also, an emergency center will be set up to monitor and analyze the situation in Crimea.

 Powerful pro-Russian sentiments in Crimea will disappoint Western observers - Russian MP

International observers in Crimea would disappoint the United States as they would witness powerful pro-Russian sentiments among the local residents, Chairman of the Russian State Duma International Committee Alexei Pushkov wrote on his Twitter page.

"The United States is pushing for an observer mission to be sent to Crimea immediately. But the United States will be disappointed to see powerful pro-Russian sentiments," he said.
Earlier, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power told the UN Security Council that international observers, including from the UN and the OSCE should be immediately sent to Ukraine.

It's the best way to monitor the situation and prevent violations of human rights, she said.
Russian PM warns Ukrainian counterpart Russia reserves right to defend its citizens, troops in Crimea
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Saturday during which he expressed interest in preserving stable and friendly relations with Ukraine, the Russian government press service says.
"However, it was noted that the Russian side reserves the right to protect the lawful interests of citizens and servicemen deployed in the territory the Autonomous Republic of Crimea," the press service said. Russian armed forces "in case of need have the right to act in the framework of the mandate issued by the Federation Council to the president," Medvedev said.
"Also during the conversation Medvedev pointed out to the possible responsibility of Ukrainian officials, if they make unlawful decisions on the use of force against Russian citizens," the press service said.

Sevastopol is home for Russian Black Fleet - Russia's Deputy PM

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin stresses Sevastopol /Crimea/ is home for the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

By saying so he has commented in his Twitter to the information that Ukraine's former presidents Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko called to terminate the Kharkov Agreement on the base of the Russian Fleet in Crimea.
"The Black Sea Fleet is not homeless. Sevastopol is its home. And you should rather deal with your grandchildren," Rogozin wrote.

Crimea-deployed Ukrainian military massively taking side of Crimean authorities

The Ukrainian military serving in Crimea-deployed units are joining the local self-defence forces, the ITAR-TASS correspondent reports from Crimea.

Many servicemen disagree with Kiev's policy, leave their units and tender their resignations. Some units have said they will be taking orders only from the command of Crimea’s self-defence forces, the eyewitness says.

Shame on you, Yarosh, fighter for freedom, if you call terrorists for help - Beslan Mothers committe

Women from the Beslan Mothers' committee hope that Ukraine will never turn into a base for terrorists, such as Doku Umarov or Dmitry Yarosh.  Volgograd region governor, head of Checnya, chairman of the Russian Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus expressed their outrage with Ukraine's radical group statement. 

"We are indignant about leader of the Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh's appeal to bandits and terrorists from Doku Umarov's gang," they write in their appeal prepared in response to the Right Sector's leader's call to step up the struggle in the Caucasus. "We know what methods these brave fellows can use waging a "liberation war" against women and children in maternity hospitals and schools."

The people of Beslan where a monstrous terrorist act took place in the local school in 2004 are shocked by Yarosh's words that the Ukrainian and Caucasian people are united by jointly shed blood. "Now we know who helped to prepare and carry out the terrorist act in Beslan," the Beslan Mothers say. "Shame on you, Yarosh, a fighter for freedom and independence, if you call terrorists for help."
The women who lost their children in the terrorist act of 2004 believe that there are forces in Ukraine that will not allow men like Yarosh to drown the country in blood and make it a base for terrorists. The Beslan Mothers are convinced that Ukrainians are wise enough not to become puppets in the hands of terrorists like Yarosh and Umarov.
Leader of the Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh appealed to Docu Umarov for aid motivating his call by the fact that Ukrainian and Caucasian people are united by jointly shed blood when a lot of Ukrainians, arms in hands, took part in the liberation war of the Chechen and other Caucasian people.
Ukraine: Only terrorists rub shoulders with terrorists - Volgograd Region governor
Leader of the Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh’s appeal to the head of international terrorists Doku Umarov to join efforts puts Yarosh and Umarov on a par. This is what Governor of the Volgograd Region Sergey Bozhenov said.
Not only Russia but also the US considers Umarov to be an international criminal. Yarosh’s willingness to become Umarov's ally puts him outside the law and requires using respective sanctions against him and those who share his views.
The governor said that it was Umarov and his bandits that brought a lot of grief to the Volgograd land. Umarov's gunmen are organisers and performers of monstrous explosions in Volgograd in October and December 2013 that took the lives of 40 people, among them women and children. Over 100 civilians were injured then, Sergey Bozhenov said.
Last year Volgograd suffered from a series of terrorist attacks. On 21 October a female suicide bomber arranged an explosion in a bus. On 29 December the site for a terrorist attack was the city railway station and on 30 December a city trolley-bus.
Yarosh's appeal to terrorist Umarov shows essence of Ukrainian power- head of Caucasian peoples' society
Leader of the Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh's appeal to terrorist Doku Umarov to step up the struggle against Russia shows the core of the so-called new Ukrainian power, chairman of the Russian Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus (RCPC) Aliy Totorkulov said.
The very fact of Yarosh's appeal to Umarov, whose arms are elbow-deep in blood, proves among other things that those who ordered the escalation of chaos in Ukraine and terrorist acts in the North Caucasus and many Russian cities are tarred with the same brush, Totorkulov stressed.
He said that the RCPC is gravely concerned about the developments in neighbouring Ukraine where extremists and nationalists of all description are threatening to bring chaos and violence to the southern and western regions of our republic. They are even urging to alienate some territories from Russia. Under the circumstances, inactivity on our part would be a crime, Totorkulov added.
He is convinced that today is the day when the life of both Ukraine and Russia is being determined. We support the idea of the deployment of Russian troops in the Crimea, so as to settle the situation in that region. We also believe that Russia should provide any other sort of assistance to Ukrainian regions whose population rejects nationalism and is asking for assistance and protection.

 Ukraine's appeal for terrorists help backed by US, West countries - Head of Chechen Republic

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has commented on Dmitry Yarosh's appeal to Doku Umarov, the leader of Caucasian extremists. The Chechen president pointed out that he will not overlook Yarosh's words about his "fighting in the Chechen war." He wrote this in his official page in the Instagram service.

This is a good evidence of who is considered an opposition and a political force by Europe and the US, Kadyrov said. Yarosh is openly calling for terrorism and nevertheless he is supported by countries that are allegedly against terrorism. The US has recognized Umarov to be one of the main terrorists of today but Yarosh is a good guy for them, Kadyrov said.

The Chechen president also pointed out that he has personally talked with the leaders of Crimean Tatars and they do not intend to fight against Russia, however hard Ukrainian nationalists tried to set them against Russia.
Ramzan Kadyrov said that Dmitry Yarosh will follow Doku Umarov to the place from where no one has returned yet.
Leader of the Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh appealed to Doku Umarov for assistance on Saturday and urged Caucasian gangsters to step up their struggle against Russia.
Ukraine's appeal to terrorist Umarov puts Right Sector on par with int'l terrorism - Yevkurov
President Yunus-bek Yevkurov of Ingushetia said that with his appeal to the leader of gangsters in the North Caucasus Doku Umarov, the leader of the Right Sector in Ukraine Dmitry Yarosh has confirmed that those who had been gangsters in the North Caucasus were also in Independence Square in Kiev. That appeal puts the Right Sector on a par with international terrorist organisations, he pointed out. He said that he was interested in the West’s response to this appeal because the West supported the new power in Ukraine.
Yevkurov said that this appeal contains no news for the residents of the North Caucasus and the Republic of Ingushetia. He said that people will keep working as usual, solve economic and social problems and carry out an active struggle against crime.
Russia expects West reaction to Ukranian nationalists' call for help from terrorists
Moscow expects the West's reaction to the call of the head of the ultranationalist Ukrainian organization " The Right sector" and one of the Maidan leaders Dmitry Yarosh, to the leader of Chechen terrorists Doku Umarov, reported the Russian Foreign Ministry commissioner on human rights Konstantin Dolgov .
"A Ukrainian Neo-fascist Yarosh called for Umarov’s help. Is the West relying on such “democrats”? Will the local reaction follow? - Russian diplomat wrote in his Twitter.
On Saturday, the head of the Ukrainian ultranationalist organization " The Right sector" and one of the Maidan leaders Dmitry Yarosh addressed to the leader of the Chechen terrorists Doku Umarov for support.
He wrote about this on "the Right sector" public page in "VKontakte".
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly drawn attention of Western partners to the extremist and ultranationalist slogans of Maidan leaders and those politicians’ whose party came to power in Ukraine.
Ukraine nationalist leader urges top terrorist Umarov 'to act against Russia'
Ukraine nationalist leader calls on 'most wanted' terrorist Umarov 'to act against Russia'. A leader of the Ukrainian radical group Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), Dmitry Yarosh, has called on Russia’s most wanted terrorist Doku Umarov to act against Russia in an address posted on Right Sector’s page in VKontakte social network.

 Medvedev tells Yatsenyuk about responsibility for possible use of force against Russians

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had a telephone conversation Saturday with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk appointed by Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, noting Russia’s interest to preserve stable and friendly relations with Ukraine, the Russian government press service reported on Sunday.

"Meanwhile, it was noted that Russia retains the right to protect legitimate interests of Russian citizens and servicemen stationed in the autonomous republic of Crimea," the press service said.

Russian armed forces "are empowered to act according to a mandate given to the Russian president by Federation Council upper house of parliament if necessary," Medvedev said.
"At the conversation Medvedev also noted responsibility of Ukrainian officials if any unlawful decisions are taken for use of force against Russian citizens," the press service said.

Russian senators approve use of military forces on Ukrainian territory

Russia’s Federation Council has unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to use Russian military forces in Ukraine. The move is aimed to settle the turmoil in the split country. The upper house of the Russian parliament has voted in favor of sending troops to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which would ensure peace and order in the region "until the socio-political situation in the country is stabilized." The Russian president will make the final decision on the strength of Russian troops to be used in the Ukraine in accordance with the decision of the Federation Council.

The Federation Council’s decision to grant the Russian president the right to use Russian troops in the Crimea does not mean that it will be done in the nearest future, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"The consent which was given to our president does not necessarily mean that he is going to exercise his power quickly," Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said.
Read more: Federation Council deciding on use of Russian forces in Crimea. LIVE UPDATES
The Russian president appointed the senior diplomat as a special envoy to the Federation Council, when considering the use of the Russian military on the territory of the Ukraine.
The Russian president will make the final decision on the strength of Russian troops to be used in the Ukraine in accordance with the decision of the Federation Council. The decision is supported by the 2009 amendments to the law "On Defense".
As the Deputy Foreign Minister noted, the number of troops that could be used in the Ukraine is not going to be discussed yet.
"We need to properly interpret the president’s address, as well as is the consent given by the Federation Council, which refers to possible use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation," Karasin said.
"They had no other choice but to give this consent, for we are not simply concerned about the situation in the Ukraine, it truly bothers the Russian society and the situation is aggravating," he said.
The Federation Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution, granting the Russian president the right to use Russian armed forces in the Ukraine until the political situation there is stabilized.
The vote at an extraordinary meeting of the Federation Council was held in public. All senators present spoke for approval of the Russian president’s initiative.
The Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said, that the present decree comes into force from the date of its adoption.

 Russians' lives in Crimea in danger, Russia can't remain indifferent – Russian MP

Russia can't remain indifferent to the fact that the lives of Russians in Crimea are in danger, the speaker of the Russian Parliament's upper house, the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, said in a statement on Saturday.

"A group of Russian Senators who have visited Crimea have briefed their colleagues on the situation in Crimea, specifically in Sevastopol. Today the threat to life and security of Russian nationals making their home in Ukraine is very real. This is a threat to Russian military servicemen who are in Sevastopol as part of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and are deployed there in keeping with a relevant international treaty. Of course, Russia cannot remain indifferent", she said.

Russia's Federation Council doesn't rule out sending troops to Crimea - Parliament Speaker
Russia's Federation Council doesn't rule out sending troops to Crimea, the Russian Parliament's Speaker, Valentina Matviyenko has announced on Saturday.
The Russian Federation Council doesn't rule out that a limited contigent of Russian troops will be sent to Crimea for ensuring security of Russia's Black Sea Fleet and Russian nationals, according to the speaker of the parliament's upper chamber.
"Under these circumstances, we might send a limited contingent of troops to ensure security of the Black Sea Fleet and Russian nationals residing in Crimea. Surely, it's up to the president to decide as he is a commander-in-chief but we don't rule out such a scenario. We must protect our compatriots," Matviyenko added.

Russian parliament urges Putin to use all possibilities to defend Crimean population

State Duma Council urges Russian President to take measures to stabilize the situation in the Ukrainian region of Crimea and use "all possibilities" to protect the local population, its speaker said.

"The Council of the State Duma, in the name of the MPs of the State Duma, has asked the president to take measures to stabilise the situation in Crimea and use all available possibilities to protect the population of Crimea from lawlessness and violence," speaker Sergei Naryshkin said in a statement read on state television.
The Council of the State Duma is made up of the faction chiefs and speaker of the lower house.

 Russian flag raised at regional administration building in Kharkov.

Protesters in central Kharkov, the site of a rally in defence of the city, have driven radicals out of the building of regional administration in Svoboda (or Freedom) Square.

The radicals earlier seized the building. The correspondent of the ITAR-TASS news agency reports from Kharkov that a Russian flag has been hoisted over the Kharkov regional administration.
Meanwhile, several blasts have resounded inside the building, and automatic gunfire is currently said to be heard from there.

Pro-Russian activists storm regional admin HQ in Kharkov
Gunshots were heard inside and outside the regional administration headquarters in Kharkov as pro-Russian activists rushed into the building on Saturday, cheered by a crowd outside and breaching a Maidan cordon, and hoisted a Russian flag and a flag of Kharkov above the front door.
Some people were injured, according to reports. 
Kharkov residents hold rally to defend their city
In Kharkov, dozens of people are walking to Svoboda, or Freedom, Square, in the city centre, where a rally "in defence of the city" has got under way. No one is said to be in aggressive mood, the ITAR-TASS correspondent reports from Kharkov.
All participants are handed out St. George Ribbons, which the people fasten to their clothes. Russian and Ukrainian flags are aflutter in the breeze. Plastic barrier fencing has been set up around the square to limit road traffic, but police have not been ordered thus far to block traffic altogether.
Activists are using the makeshift stage in the centre of the square to urge that unrest or chaos in the city be prevented.
The former Governor of the Kharkov Region, Mikhail Dobkin, is due to arrive. Dobkin earlier said he would run for Ukrainian President.

 Crimean parliament announces referendum on autonomy’s future 

The radicals earlier seized the building. The correspondent of the ITAR-TASS news agency reports from Kharkov that a Russian flag has been hoisted over the Kharkov regional administration.
Meanwhile, several blasts have resounded inside the building, and automatic gunfire is currently said to be heard from there.
Pro-Russian activists storm regional admin HQ in Kharkov
Gunshots were heard inside and outside the regional administration headquarters in Kharkov as pro-Russian activists rushed into the building on Saturday, cheered by a crowd outside and breaching a Maidan cordon, and hoisted a Russian flag and a flag of Kharkov above the front door.
Some people were injured, according to reports. 
Kharkov residents hold rally to defend their city
In Kharkov, dozens of people are walking to Svoboda, or Freedom, Square, in the city centre, where a rally "in defence of the city" has got under way. No one is said to be in aggressive mood, the ITAR-TASS correspondent reports from Kharkov.
All participants are handed out St. George Ribbons, which the people fasten to their clothes. Russian and Ukrainian flags are aflutter in the breeze. Plastic barrier fencing has been set up around the square to limit road traffic, but police have not been ordered thus far to block traffic altogether.
Activists are using the makeshift stage in the centre of the square to urge that unrest or chaos in the city be prevented.
The former Governor of the Kharkov Region, Mikhail Dobkin, is due to arrive. Dobkin earlier said he would run for Ukrainian President.
The Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has announced holding a referendum on the autonomy’s future, says the statement of the Crimean parliament’s presidium.

Ukraine: Yatsenyuk cedes parliamentary mandate, will not run for president

Ukrainian prime ministerial candidate Arseny Yatsenyuk says he will not run for president of Ukraine.

"I am officially declaring that I am not going to run for president of Ukraine. And I am ceding the mandate of a people's deputy," Yatsenyuk said at a plenary session on Thursday.
Ukraine on verge of political, economic collapse — Yatsenyuk
Ukraine is on the verge of political and economic collapse, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the leader of the parliamentary faction of the Batkivshchina party, said Thursday. 
Ukraine has seen its president, Viktor Yanukovych, ousted in the latest wave of mass anti-government protests, which were underway in Ukraine since November 2013, when Ukraine's authorities refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
Yatsenyuk, who is a candidate for the post of Ukraine’s prime minister, said the economic situation in the country would not improve fast.
"The Ukrainian coffers have been embezzled and are empty. I don't promise improvement today or tomorrow. The task of the government is to stabilize the situation," he said.
Ukraine urges Budapest Memorandum signatories to guarantee its integrity - prime ministerial candidate Yatsenyuk
Ukrainian prime ministerial candidate Arseny Yatsenyuk is calling on the signatories to the Budapest Memorandum to guarantee Ukraine's territorial integrity.
"Ukraine is calling on all signatories of the Budapest Memorandum to guarantee Ukraine's security and territorial integrity," Yatsenyuk said at the parliamentary plenary session on Thursday.
The Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine's Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the Budapest Memorandum, is an international treaty on Ukraine's nuclear-free status concluded between Ukraine, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom on December 5, 1994.
The agreement contains provisions guaranteeing Ukraine's sovereignty and security.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych Returns to Power, gov't buildings in Crimea seized. LIVE UPDATES

Crisis in Ukraine: 

  • The buildings housing the parliament and government of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea were seized by armed gunmen on Thursday. A Crimean parliament spokesman said that unknown men had broken into the legislature's headquarters and ordered security guards to leave the building.
  • All employees of Crimea's parliament were given a day-off on Thursday, he said.
  • There is a large police presence outside of the Crimean government headquarters. Officers are not allowing people to approach the seized building.

    • 14:31

    • The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada has passed legislation on the rehabilitation of political prisoners, who were earlier amnestied.

    • 14:20
    • Entertainment facilities and restaurants are shutting down in Simferopol, various managers informed on social networks, according to the Crimean news agency. Schools are closing in the city as well.

    • 14:20

    • The Crimean police have asked residents of Simferopol not to go downtown.
    • 14:18

    • Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has branded the election of Ukrainian leaders by the mob as lawlessness.

    • Photo:EPA

    • 14:17
    • Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has described the latest decisions adopted by the country's parliament as illegitimate.
    • 14:16

    • Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says the crisis settlement agreement reached with the opposition has not been fulfilled.

    • Screenshot: ubr.ua

    • 14:15

    • Viktor Yanukovych has made an address to the people of Ukraine to declare that he still considers himself the legitimately elected President of Ukraine.

    • 14:15

    • Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whom the Ukrainian opposition declared as self-removed from power following recent events in Ukraine,  reported have asked the Russian authorities to ensure his personal security.

    • 13:56

    • Some people in Sevastopol are calling for putting together groups of Russian-speaking activists to go to Simferopol. Coordinators of the idea are claiming that the Crimean parliament is planning a momentous session, and Sevastopol's fate might well depend on its decisions. They said also that only men are being invited and that buses will be allotted for transporting them to Simferopol.

    • 13:53

    • Ukraine's Foreign Ministry summoned Russia's acting envoy in Kiev on Thursday and called for immediate consultations with Moscow following the seizure of the regional government and parliament buildings in Crimea.

    • 13:52

    • NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed concern about the Crimean situation and asked Russia not to do anything that may further escalate the tensions.

    • 13:48

    • Two killed, 35 injured during Crimean rally on Wednesday

    • Photo: EPA

    • 13:21

    • The head of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, has said that the republic's leadership, the State Council of Tatarstan and the World Congress of Tatars have called on Crimea's Tatars to live with the ethnic Russian population of Crimea in peace and unity.

    • 13:13

    • Germany is concerned about events in Crimea and a breakup of Ukraine must be avoided, Germany's Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.

    • 13:12

    • The seizure of government buildings by armed men in Ukraine's Crimea region could lead to a regional conflict, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Thursday.

    • Photo: RIA Novosti

    • 13:01

    • The number of those injured during demonstrations near the building of the Supreme Council of Crimea in Simferopol, Ukraine, has grown to 35, six of whom have been hospitalized, and two have died, the Health Ministry of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine has reported.

    • 12:56

    • The center of the city of Simferopol has been closed to traffic, as police widened the security perimeter around the administration buildings.

    • 12:56

    • The representatives of the unknown armed group that seized the Crimean administration buildings have informed the region’s PM Anatoly Mogilev that they are not authorized to conduct negotiations.

    • 12:38

    • Crimea's self-defense units who took control of the autonomous republic's parliament headquarters early on Thursday morning have said that they will allow only the legislature speaker and legitimately elected MPs to enter the building, the Rossiya 24 television station has reported.

    • 12:32

    • Any movement of Russian forces across the territory of Crimea, except for the territory of the Black Sea Fleet, will be regarded by the Ukrainian Verkhovnaya rada as military agression.

    • 12:32

    • Ukraine’s acting President Aleksandr Turchinov has urged for calm after the seizure of administration buildings in Crimea by “criminals in military fatigues”

    • 11:51

    • The Russian presidential Human Rights Council is planning to send its member and Moscow Helsinki Group expert Andrei Yurov to Crimea to start monitoring the situation in Ukraine.

    • 11:51

    • February 26, several thousands of people involved in two rallies gathered near the Supreme Council house. One part of the protesters was yelling “Crimea is not Russia!” and “Ukraine, Ukraine”.

    • 11:32

    • Ukraine's acting interior minister says police on high alert after Crimea parliament seized.

    • 11:27

    • An official who was on duty at the prime minister's reception office was allowed to leave the building as well. No one was injured during the events.

    • 11:26

    • The building of Crimea's government was taken over by a group of some 30 people at around 4:30 am local time on Thursday. These persons ordered police officers guarding the government headquarters to leave the building and gave their officially issued weapons and ID cards back to them.

    • 10:53

    • Interfax-Ukraine said the men in combat dress but without badges took control without a fight.

    • 10:51

    • The buildings housing the parliament and government of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea are currently under the control of self-defense units.

    • 10:47

    • Spontaneously formed self-defense units in Crimea are directed to to Simferopol - ITAR-TASS correspondent reports.

    • 10:33

    • Head of Russia's internal republic of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov is ready to protect the rights of the Russian-speaking people in Crimea.

    • 10:32

    • United Nations spokesperson Martin Nesirky has refuted allegations that Ukraine’s security service chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko asked the United Nations to monitor the situation in Crimea.

    • 10:31

    • Law enforcement authorities are stationed next to the Council of Ministers, with officers banning people from approaching the building.

    • Photo: EPA

    • 10:29

    • Russian flag raised over Crimea parliament building.

    • Photo: RIA Novosti

    • #UkraineCrisis Live Update: Sevestopol Burned Ukraine Flags

    • Pro Russia Activists in Odessa.

    • And this reportedly shows a rally in Odessa today against the new government in Kiev (note that not only are some symbols Russia, they are specifically Soviet):
    • Continue for more updates after the break.

    • Pro-Russia rally in Sevestopol

    • Russia to decide on Ukrainian aid package once new gov't formed - Moscow

    • Russia will decide on a financial aid package for Ukraine once a new government is in place, Russian finance minister, Anton Siluanov, told the media on Sunday.

    • "We indeed discussed purchasing Eurobonds to the value of $2 billion from Ukraine last week, but the political situation has changed abruptly, and we must understand which government it is we’re dealing with, so we’ve decided to wait until a new cabinet has been formed and to better understand the new government’s politics, then, consequently, make a decision,"Siluanov told journalists.
    • The IMF, meanwhile, has offered to help out Ukraine, should its government request their assistance, the Bank’s chairman, Christine Lagarde said, speaking to Itar-Tass.
    • While the Ukraine is an IMF member, 'we’ll need someone there to actually discuss these questions with,' the IMF head said.
    • Russia backs IMF conditions for Ukraine cash injection
    • Russia has upheld the requirements that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has demanded from the crisis-ridden Ukraine. This is according to Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. He said the group of 20 finance ministers had met on the sidelines of their economic forum to discuss opportunities of IMF granting Ukraine loans.
    • Siluanov said that Russia had agreed with demands that came together with cash injections.“We have previously talked with Ukraine’s economic authorities about the importance of reforming the [national currency] Hrivna rates to make them more flexible, as well as about cutting subsidies, revitalizing the budget and changing domestic [gas] tariffs,” the minister said.
    • “I think all these issues will stay on the agenda,” he added. ‘We shall see what stance the new government will take.”
    • Siluanov also spoke favorable about the work of the IMF, saying Russia supported its policies. “The fund has a lot of experience helping countries that have problems with their budget and balance sheet. They have an entire toolkit at their disposal for this sort of occasions, and of course their experience will come in handy when dealing with Ukraine,” the Russian finance chief concluded.
    • Ukraine has been soliciting an IMF loan worth $15 billion for the past two years. In exchange, Kiev was asked to ease up its Hrivna rates, ratchet up energy tariffs and cut budget debt.
    • Ukrainian opposition fails to deliver on deal with Yanukovych - Russian FM
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday the opposition in Ukrainehad failed to deliver on the Feb. 21 agreement with President Viktor Yanukovych. The Foreign Ministry said that was the message Lavrov conveyed to his German, Polish and French counterparts - the European Union trio that helped reach the deal between the rival sides in Kiev - on the phone on Saturday
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his deepest concern to the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland about the Ukrainian opposition's inability to negotiate on the agreement signed February 21 in Kiev, the Russian Foreign Ministry reports.
    • In a telephone conversation with his European colleagues, Lavrov "expressed the gravest concern about the opposition's inability to negotiate on the agreement signed February 21 in Kiev."
    • "The opposition has only failed to meet any of the conditions, but still it puts forward new requirements, led by armed extremists and thugs whose actions pose a direct threat to the sovereignty and constitutional order of the Ukraine," the Foreign Ministry website stated Saturday.
    • Russia to grant financial aid to Ukraine after new government is formed
    • Russia will make a decision about sending the next instalment of financial aid to Ukraine after a new government is formed in Kiev, Russian Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov told journalists.
    • He said that the Russian government discussed buying 2bln Ukrainian Eurobonds last week but, as the political situation has changed dramatically, Russia should be aware what Ukrainian government it is going to deal with, so we intend to wait until a new government is formed and its policy has taken shape. After that Russia will act respectively, Anton Siluanov said.
    • Russia tells US that Ukraine's peace deal is under threat.|
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday that the peace deal signed in Ukraine had been "sharply degraded by opposition forces' inability or lack of desire" to respect it, the ministry said.
    • "Illegal extremist groups are refusing to disarm and in fact are taking Kiev under their control with the connivance of opposition leaders," Lavrov told Kerry by telephone, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
    • Lavrov "reminded" Kerry that President Vladimir Putin had urged US President Barack Obama during an earlier call to "use every opportunity to stop the illegal actions of radicals and return the situation to constitutional channels", it said.
    • Russia plays constructive role in reaching agreement in Ukraine – Polish Foreign Ministry
    • Russia’s representative at the talks in Kiev, Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, has played a constructive role in the talks between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition on reaching an agreement on normalising the situation in the country, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said at a press-conference. Sikorski also took part in the preparation of the document.
    • Sikorski pointed out that Russia’s representative as an experienced diplomat helped the progress of the talks.
    • Sikorski characterised the agreement reached in Kiev as a chance to success. In his opinion, the agreement is not likely to satisfy everyone but it is the best possible at the moment. Sikorski said that an agreement is an expression of political will, not a ready-made reform, Constitution or plaster for all Ukraine’s sores. The agreement has launched Ukraine into a new orbit, which will hopefully bring the republic back to the European path, he said.
    • Russia, EU to cooperate on settling crisis in Ukraine amid respect for its sovereignty – Moscow
    • Russia, EU to carry on cooperating to settle crisis in Ukraine amid respect for country’s sovereignty and powers of its legitimate government, said Russian Foreign Ministry.
    • Constitution reform draft must be put to nationwide referendum, said statement by Russian Foreign Ministry.
    • No Russian envoy Vladimir Lukin's signature on Ukraine crisis settlement document doesn't mean Russia not interested in compromise, it said.
    • Russian FM Lavrov urges EU condemn radicals responsible for Ukraine violence
    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the Ukraine peace deal with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and urged the EU to condemn "radicals" responsible for violence, the ministry said on Friday.
    • A ministry statement said Lavrov and Ashton had discussed the deal "and the prospects for its implementation in the conditions of continuing activity by extremist forces."
    • Russian envoy Lukin says questions remain about Ukraine peace deal
    • A Russian envoy sent to Kiev by President Vladimir Putin said talks to resolve Ukraine's crisis produced progress, but indicated Moscow had questions about the EU-brokered peace deal and confirmed he did not sign it, Interfax reported on Friday.
    • "Certain questions still remain, consultations will continue, this is a normal process," Interfax quoted Vladimir Lukin as saying after returning to Moscow.
    • Consultations over resolution of the situation in Ukraine will continue, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin said after returning to Moscow from Kiev.
    • "We talked. We clarified each other's positions. We shall continue consultations. In this sense, there is certainly progress," Lukin told Interfax on Friday night. I did not sign the agreement settling the Ukrainian crisis, he said. "No, I did not. Several issues remain. Consultations will continue, it is a normal process," Lukin said.
    • "I do not know, it will be decided here, in Moscow, in a calm atmosphere," Lukin said when asked about plans to visit Kiev again.
    • "Dialogue will definitely continue. But who will continue it, how and in what sequence, that is a technical and diplomatic matter that will be discussed," he said.
    • "There is a chance of achieving peace in Ukraine. People are working on it. But the situation there is very complicated and quite fluid, people you have to talk too are coming and going. The conversation will continue, including with our partners in Europe," the ombudsman said.
    • Russia's Duma ready for constructive dialogue with new Ukrainian authorities
    • The State Duma (lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia) has stated it will be ready to cooperate with the new Ukrainian authorities even if this cooperation proves uneasy.
    • "Ukraine is a fraternal nation to us. However inconvenient and difficult the new authorities will be for us, we shall talk to them at all levels," head of the Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Ties with Compatriots Leonid Slutsky told reporters on Friday.
    • Most likely, the draft agreement stipulating early elections, coalition government formation with a ten-day period and a return to the 2004 Constitution will be signed by all parties to the negotiating process in Kiev, he said.
    • "If this agreement is signed, it will by no means separate us from the Ukrainian people. The new authorities are not a reason for uneasy statements, this is a reason for constructive dialogue," he said.

    • EU-Ukraine association agreement to be signed only after elections - UN spokesman

    • A long-awaited EU-Ukraine deal cannot be signed until after the country's scheduled May elections, a spokesman for the bloc's executive arm, the European Commission, said Monday.

    • "The trade and investment agreement remains on the table," said Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly, referring to a wide-ranging political and trade pact at the root of Ukraine's three-month troubles.
    • "We are ready to sign this agreement once Ukraine is ready," he added.
    • Asked at a news conference whether the European Union would sign the historic deal bringing Ukraine closer to the West with a transitional government currently being formed, Bailly said:
    • "No. I think our idea is that we must let a transition process go to its final point" of elections set for May 25 "and once we have a government we will be ready to discuss again".

    • The delay "does not mean the current government is not legitimate," he said. But Brussels preferred to sign the deal with a government formed after an election "to make sure this is a full sovereign choice," Bailly said. November's sudden and surprise refusal by ousted president Viktor Yanukovych to sign the pact triggered the unrest leading to the dramatic events of the last days.Bailly also said the EU was ready to try to assist Ukraine in overcoming its economic woes "provided there is a reform programme".

    • Tymoshenko wants 'all the heroes of the Maidan' to be in govt

    • Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko insists on including "all the heroes of the Maidan" in Ukraine's new executive branch of government.
    •  "I insist that the new government be composed of members of civil society: The Batkivshchyna party and I personally will insist that all the heroes of Maidan be given a role in the executive branch," Tymoshenko said in a statement released by Batkivshchyna, the party she heads.
    • "I have already put my proposals before the leaders of the opposition," she said. "But since the Maidan activists have not yet stated their acceptance, I do not want to name them.
    • They are people who immediately rose to the defense of the country, and who have made an unquestionable and obvious contribution to our victory. They are influential leaders of the Maidan, whom the entire country knows and will support," Tymoshenko said.

    • Klitschko, Tyahnibok favor lustration in Ukraine

    • Leader of the Udar party Vitaly Klitschko and leader of the Svoboda rightwing party Oleh Tyahnibok favor lustration in Ukraine. "The parliament should today solve the issue that Ukrainian people expect them to do: to restore justice and start lustration and reforms," Klitschko said at a meeting of the conciliatory council in the Ukrainian parliament on Monday.
    • "We should immediately release all political prisoners, create a special investigative committee to probe crimes of the Yanukovych regime with the involvement of foreign experts and weekly reports on the investigation. One should starts investigations in relation to the regime's leading politicians, ask diplomats to search for people who managed to leave the country abroad, investigate actions of investigators, prosecutors and judges who were involved in repressions against activists," he said.
    • The Udar party insists on discussing in the parliament bills on the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and on the ban of the Berkut special services unit, he said.
    • The image of law enforcement agencies is spoilt, he said. "In order to improve it much time is needed. I am certain that lustration must take place," Klitschko said on the air of the Inter TV channel on Sunday night citing Georgia's experience. There are a lot of patriots among law enforcement officers, he said. Tyahnibok also called on parliamentary parties to jointly work out and adopt a bill on lustration.

    • Yanukovych declared fugitive - Ukraine's Interior Minister Avakov

    • Photo: EPA

    • Ukraine's acting interior minister Arsen Avakov said Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovych has been put on the wanted persons list. 
    • "As of today's morning, a criminal case has been opened based on the killing of many civilians. Yanukovych and some other officials have been put on the wanted persons list," he said on Facebook on Monday.

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