News / Europe

Chaos Continues in East Ukraine

A man cheers after being released from a local police station after it was stormed by pro-Russian protesters in Odessa, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.
A man cheers after being released from a local police station after it was stormed by pro-Russian protesters in Odessa, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.
VOA News
Pro-Russian militants stormed a Ukrainian police station in Odessa on Sunday and freed nearly 70 fellow activists as Ukraine’s prime minister blamed police corruption there for dozens of deaths in rioting on Friday.

About 300 pro-Russian activists forced their way into the Odessa police station, gathering in the courtyard, while about a thousand more surrounded the modern complex.

"Russians won't abandon their own!" militants chanted as they smashed windows and broke down the gate at the compound, where comrades had been held since Friday's mayhem.

A spokesman for the regional police said about 170 people were initially detained after pro-Russian activists clashed with supporters of Ukrainian unity on Friday.

Odessa police said 67 activists had been released.

As rebellion simmered, questions were raised about the ability of the army as well as police to confront an uprising Kyiv said is backed by Moscow and led in the field by Russian special forces - an accusation the Kremlin denies.

 
Pro-Ukrainian supporters attend a rally in the central Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.Pro-Ukrainian supporters attend a rally in the central Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.
x
Pro-Ukrainian supporters attend a rally in the central Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.
Pro-Ukrainian supporters attend a rally in the central Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.
Bank suspends operations

Ukraine's largest bank has temporarily closed branches in separatist-held Donetsk and Luhansk, saying it could no longer carry out cash transactions in regions riddled with crime that could “threaten the lives” of its workers.
 
Pro-Russian separatists have targeted Privatbank after its co-owner, billionaire Igor Kolomoisky, was appointed by the new government head of the nearby Dnipropetrovsk region and swiftly announced a $10,000 bounty on the heads of Russian “saboteurs.”
 
Rebels, who say they want independence from Kyiv, set fire to a branch in the town of Mariupol in the Donetsk region late on Saturday and raided a security truck last week in Horlivka, south of the region's main rebel stronghold.
 
“In the current circumstances we cannot and do not have the right to make people go to work in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where armed people break into bank branches and seize security vans in the towns,” Privatbank said in a statement.
 
Kolomoisky, Ukraine's fourth richest man according to Forbes magazine, has become a hate figure for the pro-Russian separatists.

Critical of police

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, speaking in Odessa on Sunday, accused Russia of engineering Friday's clashes there that led to the deaths of more than 40 pro-Russian activists in a blazing building.

But he was pointedly critical of the police.

Yatsenyuk suggested the Odessa police were more interested in the fruits of corruption than maintaining order. Had they done their job, he said, ``these terrorist organizations would have been foiled.”

Odessa's police chief was fired on Saturday and Yatsenyuk said other changes in leadership were planned.

“The prosecutor's office is to investigate everyone - starting with the chief of police, his deputies and every single police officer," Yatsenyuk said, according to the BBC.

Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March, said it would try to organize talks between Kyiv and representatives from the southeast: "It appears that without external help the Kyiv authorities are not capable of establishing such a dialogue," Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin told Rossiya-24 television.

Germany's foreign minister also said he was pressing for a second international conference at Geneva to bring Russia and Ukraine together with the United States and European Union to settle the dispute.

Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of wrecking a four-way accord to end the conflict signed at Geneva on April 17.

Elsewhere on Sunday, witnesses and experts said several dozen Russian planes including what appeared to be strategic bombers and fighter jets have been spotted in the sky above the Moscow-controlled peninsula of Crimea.

According to Russian media, President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Crimea on Friday after overseeing the main military parade on the Red Square when Russia celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

A local aviation expert told AFP on Sunday that he had sighted a number of planes over the peninsula's main city of Simferopol on Saturday, including supersonic heavy strategic bombers and heavy military transport aircraft.

The expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had also seen refueling tankers and MiG-29 jets.
 
Ukrainian police and paratroopers check a car as they and other comrades block a road outside the town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.Ukrainian police and paratroopers check a car as they and other comrades block a road outside the town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.
x
Ukrainian police and paratroopers check a car as they and other comrades block a road outside the town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.
Ukrainian police and paratroopers check a car as they and other comrades block a road outside the town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, on May 4, 2014.

Worst fighting since February

Friday's clashes were the deadliest since Moscow-oriented president Viktor Yanukovich was forced to flee in February and pro-Russian militants launched uprisings in the industrial east. They also marked the first serious disorder beyond eastern areas since Yanukovich fell, heralding possible trouble for Kyiv.

Kyiv is organizing a presidential election for May 25. However, as things stand, it would have trouble conducting the vote in many parts of the east, a circumstance that would allow Russia to declare any government emerging as bereft of legitimacy.

Separatists who have declared a "People's Republic of Donetsk” are planning a referendum on secession on May 11.

The Ukraine army suffered an embarrassing upset near the eastern town of Mariupol when soldiers at a checkpoint accepted food offered to them by a group presenting themselves as public-spirited citizens. Such donations have been common in recent weeks, as Ukraine's forces suffer a serious lack of resources.

The food had been laced with a sleeping potion. Once incapacitated, the soldiers were then bundled off along with their weapons, prompting long talks to free them. The five soldiers, taken prisoner on Saturday, were released on Sunday.

The capital Kyiv has remained quiet since the protests that forced Yanukovich to flee to Russia. But celebrations this week marking the anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War Two could be a source of tension.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, Reuters, AP.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid