News / Europe

Ukraine’s President Signs Amnesty Bill; Military Wants 'Stabilization'

An opposition supporter warms himself next to a fire in a barricade near Kyiv's Independence Square, Jan. 31, 2014.
An opposition supporter warms himself next to a fire in a barricade near Kyiv's Independence Square, Jan. 31, 2014.
VOA News
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has signed into law a bill on amnesty for anti-government protesters.

The 63-year-old president signed legislation Friday that grants amnesty to those detained during anti-government protests. However, the amnesty takes effect only if other protesters vacate government buildings they have seized.

Opposition leaders have rejected the measure, which the president acted on after announcing a day earlier that he had gone on sick leave for an acute respiratory infection and fever.

Tensions in Ukraine rose Thursday, after opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov, missing since January 22, was found outside Kyiv with cuts and bruises to his face, along with other injuries. Bulatov said he was kidnapped by unknown abductors, tortured and held for days before being abandoned in a forest. Bulatov said he made his way to a nearby village, where he reached his friends by phone.

  • An opposition supporter looks on as he warms himself next to a fire in a barricade near Kyiv's Independence Square, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters march in central Kyiv, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters march in central Kyiv, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • An opposition supporter stands next to a burning tire at a barricade in central Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Riot police stand in a cordon facing anti-government protesters as temperatures stand at minus 20 degrees Celsius at a barricade near Independence Square in Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters walk in the tent city at Independence Square in Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Protesters, with signs reading "Mother" on their chests, and ""The government don't kill our children," walk away from a police cordon in central Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Members of various anti-government paramilitary groups walk in formation during a show of force in Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • Members of various anti-government paramilitary groups attend a religious service at a chapel in Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • A protest camp in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2014. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)
  • Protest camps in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2013. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry issued a statement quoting military officials as calling on President Yanukovych to take "immediate measures" to stabilize the situation in the country.

The statement, posted on the ministry’s website, said that during a meeting Friday with Defense Minister Pavel Lebedev, military officials deemed as "unacceptable" the "violent seizure of state institutions and interference with representatives of state and local governments to carry out their duties."

The statement quoted the officials as saying "further escalation of the conflict threatens the territorial integrity of the state," and calling on Yanukovych "as permitted by law to take immediate measures to stabilize the situation and achieve harmony in society."

On Sunday, Defense Minister Lebedev told Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency that Ukraine’s armed forces would not interfere in the country’s political conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is on a visit to Germany, will meet with Ukrainian opposition leaders on Saturday on the sidelines of an international security conference.

Kerry will hold talks with opposition politician Arseny Yatsenyuk and former boxing champion-turned-activist Vitaly Klitschko.

The United Nations' human rights office has called on President Yanukovych to investigate recent reports of deaths, kidnappings and torture during the nation's political unrest.  A spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the commissioner is "appalled" by the reports.

Yanukovych issued a statement Thursday accusing opposition leaders of escalating the political crisis and saying the government has fulfilled its obligations to end the standoff, including a conditional amnesty for arrested protesters and replacing his prime minister.

Ukrainians took to the streets in November when President Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia.

Human Rights Watch has called on Ukraine's international partners to press it to investigate what the group calls "serious human rights violations" perpetrated between January 19 through 22.  The rights group says it has documented 13 cases in which police beat journalists or medical workers at the protests during that time.  It says Ukrainian nongovernmental groups have documented 60 such cases.

Human Rights Watch says available evidence indicates that in many cases, police deliberately targeted journalists and medics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he wants to wait for a new government in Ukraine before proceeding with a promised $15 billion loan to Ukraine along with substantial natural gas discounts.

Earlier this week, the Standard and Poor's rating agency downgraded Ukraine's credit rating, in part because of what it called the country's "distressed civil society" and "weakened political institutions," and its questionable ability to repay its debts.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid