World News

    Ukraine President Fires Army Chief as Deadly Standoff Grips Kyiv

    Ukraine's embattled president fired his army chief Wednesday, as thousands of opposition protesters manned barricades in central Kyiv and the military announced a nationwide crackdown on what it calls "extremist groups."

    The firing of General Volodymyr Zamana follows hours of clashes in Kyiv between opposition protesters and riot police that left at least 26 people dead and hundreds of others wounded. President Viktor Yanukovych -- the target of the protests -- offered no explanation for the dismissal.

    Hours after the violence subsided, the Interior Ministry announced a sweeping "anti-terrorist" operation, saying protesters elsewhere in the country had overrun government arms depots and seized weapons and munitions. Local media quote officials as saying they fear those stockpiles are being transported to the capital for use by protesters.

    Security service chief Oleksandr Yakimenko said municipal buildings, security offices and arms depots had been raided around the country. He said 1,500 firearms and 100,000 rounds of ammunition had wound up "in the hands of criminals" over the previous 24 hours.

    The latest violence -- the deadliest in nearly three months of anti-government protests -- triggered widespread condemnation from Western capitals and a statement of grave concern from the United Nations.



    President Yanukovych is blaming opposition leaders for the latest fighting, which escalated as riot police charged the main opposition protest encampment in Kyiv late Tuesday.

    Police and opposition representatives said many of the dead were killed by gunshots. Dozens of the injured were reported in serious condition. Nine of the dead were police officers.

    European Union foreign ministers have called an emergency meeting Thursday in Brussels, where they are expected to agree on sanctions against those found responsible for the violence.

    Earlier Wednesday, Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko met with President Yanukovych, but the meeting failed to produce a breakthrough. Klitschko said the president demanded protesters "stop the standoff" and unconditionally vacate Independence Square.

    Klitschko urged the pro-Western demonstrators occupying the square to defend their positions. Thick black smoke could be seen rising from the barricades encircling the protest camp Wednesday.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement saying he is "shocked" by the escalation of violence and said use of deadly force by either side is unacceptable.

    The United States has issued a travel warning for its citizens in Ukraine, warning them to "maintain a low profile" while in the capital and be prepared to remain indoors at night.

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden phoned Mr. Yanukovych late Tuesday to express "grave concern" about the violence, calling on the Ukrainian president to pull back security forces and exercise maximum restraint. Biden told Mr. Yanukovych his government bears "special responsibility" to resolve the crisis.

    Anti-government protests have been building for weeks, with activists calling for Mr. Yanukovych's ouster after he backed away from a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

    Meanwhile in Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned the deadly Ukraine protests as a "coup attempt." He denied claims President Vladimir Putin was giving advice to Ukraine's president on how to handle the crisis and reiterated Moscow would not interfere with Ukraine's internal affairs.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora