News / Europe

    Ukraine's Leader Agrees to Repeal Some Anti-Protest Laws

    Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, second left, talks to opposition leaders Oleh Tyahnybok, first right, Vitali Klitschko, second right, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, third right, in Kyiv,Jan. 27, 2014.
    Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, second left, talks to opposition leaders Oleh Tyahnybok, first right, Vitali Klitschko, second right, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, third right, in Kyiv,Jan. 27, 2014.
    James Brooke
    Ukraine's embattled President Viktor Yanukovych has agreed to repeal some of the harsh anti-protest laws that have helped fuel increasingly violent protests for more than a week. The decision came after talks with opposition leaders late Monday.  A statement on the presidential website said repeal of the laws will be addressed at a special session of parliament that begins on Tuesday.

    Earlier Monday Ukrainian protesters ended their occupation of the Justice Ministry, allowing talks to start between Yanukovych and opposition leaders.
     
    The talks are seen as crucial to the special session of the nation’s parliament on Tuesday. Ukraine’s beleaguered president has promised to ask the parliament to repeal new authoritarian laws restricting freedom of assembly.

    The laws sparked a national wave of protest, plunging Ukraine into its deepest political crisis since it won independence from the Soviet Union 23 years ago.

    Martial law?
     
    In recent days, radical protesters occupied the energy, justice and agriculture ministries, prompting some people here to say the president is losing control of the capital. Sunday’s occupation of the Justice Ministry prompted Justice Minister Olena Lukash to threaten Monday to call for a state of emergency.
     
    Widely seen as a form of martial law, this could involve Yanukovych asking the army to repress protesters. It is unclear if army generals would obey orders to act against the spreading protests.

    In recent days, protesters took over local government offices in all of western Ukraine. Attempts to take over offices in four eastern Ukrainian cities led to pitched battles between protesters and riot police and civilian gangs. Since Sunday, dozens have been injured and dozens more jailed.
     
    On Monday, Ukrainian TV aired videos of these fights, where young men from sports groups joined riot police in clubbing protesters.

    Disappearances and torture
     
    Also Monday, the European Union’s office in Ukraine, accused the government of waging a dirty war against its political opponents.
     
    The EU statement read: “Arrests of wounded people in front of clinics, several cases of disappearance and reported torture are extremely worrying and can be accepted under no circumstances.”
     
    • 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)

    Ukraine’s protests erupted two months ago, when Yanukovych unexpectedly pulled out of signing an association agreement with the European Union. Instead, he signed up for a $15 billion bailout deal with Russia.
     
    This East-West fight over Ukraine has brought relations between the EU and Russia to their chilliest level since Russia’s war with Georgia five years ago.  This week, EU leaders cut a long planned two-day EU-Russia summit to a three-hour meeting on Tuesday. They also cancelled a Monday night dinner with President Vladimir Putin.

    Some material in this report was contributed by Reuters

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    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 Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    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 Rapide’ 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.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora