News / Europe

Ukraine's Ex-PM Receives Hero's Welcome

Amid Upheaval, 'Glory to the Heroes'i
X
February 22, 2014 10:05 PM
It was a day of mourning on Kiev's Independence Square for dozens of people killed during the past week's clashes between police and pro-reform protesters. But it played out against a backdrop of political high drama. VOA's Al Pessin has more.
VIDEO: Traditional Ukrainian saying, 'glory to the heroes,' takes on new meaning as it is displayed on a hillside and endlessly repeated in greetings
VOA News
Ukrainians gave newly-freed opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko a hero's welcome as she addressed protesters in Kiev Saturday, where she urged them to continue their demonstrations.

As part of a deal to end weeks of violence, Tymoshenko was freed from a prison hospital where she had been serving time for abuse of power — a charge her supporters say was political revenge by President Viktor Yanukovych.

Newly freed Ukrainian opposition icon, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko looks delivers a speech, Kiev's Independance square, Feb. 22, 2014.Newly freed Ukrainian opposition icon, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko looks delivers a speech, Kiev's Independance square, Feb. 22, 2014.
x
Newly freed Ukrainian opposition icon, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko looks delivers a speech, Kiev's Independance square, Feb. 22, 2014.
Newly freed Ukrainian opposition icon, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko looks delivers a speech, Kiev's Independance square, Feb. 22, 2014.
Speaking from a wheelchair due to severe back pain, Tymoshenko called protesters heroes and the best of Ukraine before breaking down in tears. A long-time Yanukovych adversary, Tymoshenko said that a "dictatorship has fallen" as she honored the protesters who lost their lives.

Earlier Saturday, Ukraine's parliament voted to dismiss President Yanukovych and set early elections for May 25. Parliament also elected a new speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, a longtime Tymoshenko ally. Former speaker and government supporter Volodymyr Rybak submitted his resignation, citing ill health.

In an interview Saturday with a Ukrainian television station, Yanukovych said he intends to remain in office. He called the violent uprising against him an example of a "coup," and compared it to the Nazis' rise to power in Germany in the 1930s.

The president, who is in Kharkiv near the Russian border, also said all decisions made by Ukraine's parliament Saturday were illegal.

Yanukovych, however, has been left almost powerless. His cabinet promised to back a new government, the police said it supported the opposition, and the army said it would not get involved.

According to reports by Reuters, presidential loyalists in predominantly Russian-speaking parts of eastern Ukraine are questioning the parliamentary actions, and the reports indicate calls have been issued to assume control of pro-Yanukovich territories.

"The move appeared to increase the possibility of a split in the sprawling former Soviet republic of 46 million, despite denials by the leaders that this was their intention," the Reuters story said.

Story continues below photo gallery
  • Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko (C) is transported on a wheelchair upon her arrival at the airport in Kyiv, Feb. 22, 2014.
  • Members of Berkut anti-riot unit prepare to leave their barracks in Kyiv. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament and declared they would not take part in any conflict with the people.
  • Yevgenia Tymoshenko (R) reacts as the Parliament voted to free her mother, opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, during a session in Kyiv.
  • Anti-government protesters stand guard in front of the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv. Protesters took control of the capital and parliament and sought to oust the president.
  • Protesters ride atop of what appears to be a military truck, in central Kyiv.
  • Protesters stand guard in front of presidential administrative building in central Kyiv.
  • People discuss in front of a poster showing jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in central Kyiv.
  • Ukrainian opposition leader and head of the UDAR (Punch) party Vitaly Klitschko (L) greets anti-government protesters outside the parliament building in Kyiv.
  • A suspected supporter of Ukraine's embattled President Viktor Yanukovych, center, is assaulted by anti-government protesters in Kyiv.
  • A protester waves an EU flag at the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's country residence in Mezhyhirya.
  • Anti-government protesters stand in a line outside the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kyiv.
  • Ukrainian opposition leader and head of the UDAR (Punch) party Vitaly Klitschko (C, front) talks to his colleagues, with newly elected speaker of parliament Oleksander Turchynov (R, top) seen in the background, during a session of the parliament in Kyiv.
  • Two women prepare to place flowers on a wall in the Independence Square in Kyiv.
  • People carry the coffin of a protester, who was killed after days of violence, during a funeral service in Kyiv.
  • Anti-government protesters attack a deputy of the Party of Regions Vitaly Grushevsky (2nd L, front) outside the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kyiv.
  • Protesters march towards government buildings in central Kyiv.
  • Protesters gather in the Independence square in central Kyiv. Protesters claimed full control of the city following the signing of a Western-brokered peace deal aimed at ending the nation's three-month political crisis.

The United States welcomed today's developments and urged the quick formation of a unity government. In a statement, the White House said the developments could move Ukraine closer to a de-escalation of violence, constitutional change and early elections.

"We welcome former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s release from a prison hospital today, and we wish her a speedy recovery as she seeks the appropriate medical treatment that she has long needed and sought," the statement said.

Day of action, mourning

Ukrainian protesters also took control of President Yanukovych's offices in Kiev on Saturday, while others let themselves onto the grounds of the president's lavish but secret estate outside the capital, which includes a private zoo, and toured his house. Some say they are stunned that one person could have so much while others in Ukraine have nothing.

Meanwhile, thousands massed in Independence Square, where opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko urged Yanukovych to resign so elections can be held no later than May.

The protest camp on Kyiv's main square also hosted funerals and memorial services to mourn protesters cut down by police attacks and snipers.

There were prayers and tributes, and tears from people who probably never knew the victims. People stopped at makeshift shrines to pay their respects.

"I am commemorating those who died for our freedom, for people who just want to live a better life," said Olga, a Kiev resident who gave only her first name.

Ukrainian entrepreneur and researcher Valerii Pekar called it a political revolution, but also much more.

"This is a revolution in mentality," he said. "This is a revolution of values, new values against old values. ... It's values of modern society against values of old paternalistic Soviet-style society."

Friday agreement

Split between those in the east who favor ties with Russia and those in the west who lean toward the European Union, Ukraine erupted in protest when Yanukovych in November backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Moscow. The protests began peacefully but descended into violence earlier this month. Nearly 100 people have since been killed, including some protesters who were shot in the head by police snipers.

In spite of Friday's political deal for new elections and other concessions by Yanukovych, demonstrators objected to the agreement, which aimed to end the country's political crisis. The deal was signed by both the president and the opposition leadership.

On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told officials from France, Poland and Germany the opposition was failing to fulfill Friday's agreement. Foreign ministers from those three countries helped broker the deal.

The deal returns Ukraine to its 2004 constitution, limiting presidential powers, and also sets up a coalition government and early elections.

Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, when the Supreme Court threw out the results of an apparently flawed presidential election won by Yanukovych and ordered a new vote.

She became prime minister under the new president, Viktor Yushchenko. After Yanukovych defeated Tymoshenko in the 2010 presidential election, she was put on trial for alleged abuse of power over a natural gas deal with Russia and sentenced to prison.

VOA correspondent Al Pessin contributed to this report, and some information was provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Markt from: Virginia
February 22, 2014 10:19 PM
Let us hope that Peace can be restored and this bring the end of such terrible violence and death for the Ukraine. In such matters as what has been happening there for months, too many people have died.

by: Paul VanGogh from: Bloomington, Indiana USA
February 22, 2014 9:48 PM
Another nail in corrult Putin's coffin.

More important: a people overthrew the tyrant they had. Glory to the Ukrainian people :) , :) !
In Response

by: Mike from: USA
February 22, 2014 10:50 PM
Agree. Opposition in Ukraine won. But won at the moment. Now the important thing to keep this victory and prevent dual power in the country. Putin has suffered a failure of its neo-imperial policies and now he can go to any crime, as even more gangster than Yanukovych ...

by: Oleksandr Shepel from: Luhansk, Ukraine
February 22, 2014 9:34 PM
Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Ukrainian Heroes! Glory to Heroes of Maidan!

by: Dr. Bentley Scratchcrotch from: Miami
February 22, 2014 5:52 PM
The rebels in Ukraine are funded by that scum, George Soros, just like the CIA funds Al Qaeda from offshore banks! Of course, we have no way of knowing for sure, not that we shouldn’t expect Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann over at MSNBC — a network that owes its very existence to the eugenicist Bill Gates and the death merchant General Electric – to show journalistic objectivity and not feature whatever cobbled together and staged propaganda is produced by the well-paid minions of George Soros.
In Response

by: Tony
February 24, 2014 2:04 AM
O, you like TV RT America - but my friend - the real name for "RT America" - "Russia Today" America - Putin "KGB" TV .... for Edward Snowden main TV Source .... on English, Spanish and Arabic brainwash Americans
In Response

by: jimmy from: japan
February 22, 2014 9:47 PM
you are just saying something what you are thinking, which is not true! if things going like so apparantly, the world will become easier! because there are so many things going on which most of us dont know

by: Moe from: Wahington D.C.
February 22, 2014 4:41 PM
Another nail in the coffin of the mafia boss Putin and his russian oligarch mob goons.

by: PermReader
February 22, 2014 12:49 PM
Tymoshenko`s sentence-the most rediculouse sentence in the world:the signing agriment with the president`s best friend-Putin.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs