Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ukraine: Government, Opposition Declare Truce in Political Unrest That Has Claimed 26 Lives

According to The Latin American Tribune, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders agreed to declare a truce aimed at ending violent disturbances blamed for at least 26 deaths over the past two days

“There is good news. A truce has been declared now and a negotiating process to stabilize the situation has begun,” Arseni Yatseniuk, leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party said.

“After today’s meeting we can safely affirm that they (the security forces) will not disperse our Maidan,” 
Yatseniuk said, referring to the opposition encampment in Kiev’s Independence Square. “The main thing is preserving human life.”

COMMENT: Yanukovych is to meet earlier today with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland, who traveled to Kiev in hopes of mediating an end to the strife.

Ukraine’s crisis erupted at the end of November 2013, when Yanukovych backed away from plans to ink a broad cooperation pact with the European Union and instead signed a $15 billion financial-aid package with Moscow.

Pro-Europe protesters took to the streets of Kiev and began occupying administrative buildings, prompting Ukraine’s Parliament, controlled by Yanukovych’s allies, to pass a package of laws on January 16, restricting freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and other basic rights.

Violent clashes pitting demonstrators and riot police broke out three days later and left six dead and hundreds wounded.

The talks led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and the repeal of the controversial anti-protest laws, yet opposition demonstrators are still demanding that Yanukovych step down in anticipation of early elections.

If anything, the street violence has revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is radioactive when it comes Ukrainian independence.

My suggestion is that foreign travelers wait to see if the truce truly holds before traveling to the Ukraine.