News / Europe

Kerry: Washington, EU Stand with Ukrainian Opposition

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during the Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, southern Germany, Feb. 1, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during the Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, southern Germany, Feb. 1, 2014.
VOA News
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is on a visit to Germany, says Washington and the European Union stand with the people of Ukraine in their effort to live freely in a safe and prosperous country.

Kerry, addressing the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, said the crisis in Ukraine is about ordinary people fighting for the right to associate with the EU.

Kerry plans to meet Saturday with opposition politician Arseny Yatsenyuk and former boxing champion-turned-activist Vitaly Klitschko.

The talks come after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed legislation Friday that grants amnesty to protesters 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 severe 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 says he made his way to a nearby village, where he reached his friends by phone.

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

The statement 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 Mr. Yanukovych "as permitted by law to take immediate measures to stabilize the situation and achieve harmony in society."

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

The U.N. 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.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dan Ramsey from: Houston, Texas
February 02, 2014 10:32 AM
Well, this is progress. It looks like the US has finally abandoned the false hope of a "reset of relations" with Russia and is ready to publicly and unambiguously stand up for what it right even if it upsets Vladimir Putin.

Putin is nothing but a cheap KGB thug. People like Putin understand and respect only one thing, and that's strength.

I also like the fact that Kerry himself will be meeting with opposition leaders. Aside from the symbolic value, now they will have the chance to tell Sec. Kerry exactly what they need and want from the west.

Sec. Kerry, for his part, will be able to warn the opposition against the dangers of over-reaching, which could turn many in Ukraine who now support them against them. The fact is that Yanukovych was democratically elected in an election that international observers regarded as generally fair. As much as I don't like him, I think he should serve out his term.

In my opinion, the opposition would be smart to abandon calls for his resignation and to instead focus on amending the constitution. The next presidential election in Ukraine is only a year away. Then Yanukovych can be removed by peaceful means.

The opposition needs to unite behind a single candidate (my preference would be Klitchko) and then prepare to prevail at the ballot box in February 2015.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs