News / Europe

    Ukraine on Brink of Civil War, Warns Former President

    Henry Ridgwell
    Ukraine’s former president is warning that the country is on the brink of civil war after two months of anti-government protests.
     
    His comments came as lawmakers were debating an amnesty bill for detained protesters - with supporters of President Viktor Yanukovych demanding that demonstrators leave government buildings. But the protesters say they will only leave their barricades after the ouster of the entire government.
     
    The debate was preceded by a stark warning from the country’s former President Leonid Kravchuk.
     
    "All the world realizes and Ukraine realizes that the state is on the brink of civil war."  Kravchuk said. "There are parallel authorities in the country and there is a de-facto uprising."
     
    The remains of the large paneled doors at the entrance to Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture hang from the frame. Snow is beginning to drift into the building. Inside, graffiti on the wall reads "Power to the People."
     
    Anti-government protesters had occupied the building earlier this week along with several other ministries.
     
    A member of the state guard - the only branch of Ukrainian police allowed in - explains that the protesters voted to hand the ministry back on Wednesday, as part of negotiations with the government over a prisoner amnesty.
     
    Independence Square has become a protest village within a city, operating by its own rules.
     
    Barricades block the surrounding streets. Protesters have taken over public buildings. Ukrainian House - a convention hall - has become an opposition community center, with a pharmacy, library and legal services.
     
    It’s home to the busy offices of Auto-Maidan - a group of drivers who use their knowledge of Kyiv’s roads to outwit police.
     
    Group leader Andriy Dzyndzia was arrested by undercover police, but released without charge Tuesday. He says only a full political revolution will see protesters leave their posts.

    “An amnesty for the prisoners is not enough," says Dzyndzia. “It’s just a start. Because most of the protesters were arrested illegally and put on trial illegally. The whole system needs changing.”
     
    Outside is Hrushevskiy Street - the frontline. Protesters say two of their number were shot dead by police here last week - a charge authorities deny. A shrine marks the spot where one fell.
     
    Demonstrators staged a show of strength Wednesday to mark the anniversary of street battles in 1919, when hundreds of students died fighting Russian forces.
     
    The protesters of 2014 see their cause as no less historic.


    “Ukrainians came out on the streets not to get an amnesty, or to fight or anything else; we came out for our rights, to be able to live a normal life," says Ihor, who leads a unit of the self-declared Maidan Defense Forces. “Because Ukraine is a great European nation. We don’t want Russia or anyone to intrude into our domestic affairs,” he said.
     
    Behind police lines, Ukraine’s lawmakers continue to debate the details of a deal to end the standoff.
     
    But in Independence Square, protesters say they will accept nothing less than the ouster of the president.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.