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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More