Posts tagged ukraine
Posts tagged ukraine
Ukrainian politics: Viktor Yanukovych’s party claims victory
Ukraine’s ruling Party of the Regions looks set for victory in national elections on October 28th. With almost 70% of the vote counted, the party of president Viktor Yanukovych (pictured above) was on 33.51% of the vote, the opposition Fatherland party was on 22.97%, and the Communists received 14.51%. A party led by world champion boxer Vitali Klitschko had garnered 13.13% of the vote and Svoboda, a far-right nationalist party, was on 8.95%.
In Ukraine’s 450-seat parliament half of the seats are allotted according to a proportional representation system while the other half are first past the post seats. So far the Party of the Regions looks set to take 116 of the latter and Fatherland 38. Another 39 may have gone to independents most of whom will almost certainly support a new government of the Party of the Regions
The Party of the Regions and its allies are unlikely to win two thirds of the seats in parliament. It wanted this in order to change the constitution to abolish direct elections to the presidency. This would lower the risk for the unpopular Mr Yanukovych of losing the presidential race in 2015. If direct elections were abolished the president would be elected by parliament.
Alleging widespread vote rigging opposition parties are crying foul. The Organization of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe has declared the poll flawed “considering the abuse of power and excessive role of money in this elections,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, who is heading the OSCE mission. “Democratic progress seems to have been reversed in Ukraine.” (via The Economist)
Riot police have deployed teargas and batons in Ukraine to repress a protest march against a new law that boosts the status of the Russian language inside the former Soviet country.
Hundreds of Ukrainians took to the streets of Kiev to protest against the law, which opposition deputies warn could divide the country in two and thrust one half of it into the arms of neighbouring Russia.
The law, adopted amid fistfights in parliament late on Tuesday, gives Russian the status of regional language, approving its use in courts, schools and other government institutions in the country’s Russian-speaking southern and eastern regions. Ukrainian remains the country’s only official federal language.
It has heightened divisions between those hoping to strengthen Ukraine’s independent post-Soviet identity and those seeking to maintain close links with Russia, a fracture that has haunted the country since the Orange Revolution in 2004.
“With this law, the Russian language will become a de facto government language for eastern Ukraine,” said Ksenya Lyapina, an opposition deputy. “It’s very dangerous for Ukraine. It can lead to the division of the country.”
Opponents to law that would make Russian official language also plan protests during Euro 2012 football
Clashes between riot police and protesters erupted in Kiev on Tuesday as Ukraine’s parliament gave initial approval to a law that will make Russian an official language and threatens to split the country along geographical and cultural lines.
Up to 9,000 demonstrators gathered during the debates on the law in the Ukrainian capital, one of the focal points for the Euro 2012 football tournament which starts on Friday.
After news emerged that 234 deputies in the 450-seat chamber had voted in favour of moving the legislation onto a second reading scuffles erupted on the streets outside the parliament buildings. Eggs and bottles were thrown by protesters at riot police who had cordoned off areas of the city, according to media reports.
Language is a powerful issue in Ukraine where Russian is widely spoken in the eastern parts of the country, including large cities such as Donetsk, which will host England’s match against France in the tournament’ next Monday.
A group of protesters opposed to the law tried to force their way onto Kiev’s Independence Square that will be a giant “fan zone” for the tournament, that Ukraine is hosting jointly with Poland.
They were countered by riot police but some UEFA signs were trampled by the crowd during the confrontation, Reuters reported.
Some protesters chanted “if there’s no language, there won’t be a euro,” linking a potential resurgence of Russian with a diminishing of Ukraine’s chances of closer ties with the European Union.
The controversial law was first introduced last year by the ruling Party of the Regions which backs prime minister Viktor Yanukovych and is seeking to bolster its support amongst its Russian-speaking political base in the face of sliding popular approval ratings. It will elevate languages spoken by “minorities” of more than 10% to the status of regional languages.
Yanukovych promised to make Russian a second language during his presidential campaign last year. Moscow has spoken out in support of the rights of Russian-speakers in parts of the Ukraine.
But the move has been vigorously opposed by the Ukrainian opposition that draws the bulk of its votes from the country’s central and western regions where Russian is less widely spoken. It has characterised the law as “anti-Ukrainian” and vowed that it will not pass a second reading in parliament.
Pictured: Riot police in Ukraine block opposition supporters during a rally against a law that would make Russian the official language. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters
Ukraine scraps summit as Europe pulls away over Tymoshenko
After a flock of European presidents sent their regrets to protest the alleged beating of imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine called off a European summit scheduled for this weekend.
The cancellation over the treatment of Tymoshenko, a rival of Ukraine’s president, was an embarrassing decision for a former Soviet country still trying to court the European Union for trade ties and other partnerships.
“Considering all circumstances around this event that was to be held in Yalta, Ukraine has decided not to hold it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Dykusarov told Interfax. He said it had been postponed indefinitely because so many heads of state were “unable to attend.”
Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic were among more than a dozen European countries whose leaders had refused to take part in the summit, which had been scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
The Central European summit was one of two events that European leaders have shunned over the imprisonment of the controversial politician: Ukrainian leaders have denounced a burgeoning boycott of a coming soccer championship that Ukraine is co-hosting with Poland, saying sports and politics shouldn’t mix.
So far its pleas have fallen flat with European leaders worried for Tymoshenko. The former prime minister was sentenced to seven years in prison last year on charges of abusing her power. Western leaders believe the case was politically motivated.
Tymoshenko alleges that she was beaten by prison guards and went on hunger strike last month in protest. Her daughter told Bloomberg News that she would end her hunger strike Wednesday after being transferred to a hospital to be treated for a back condition by German doctors.
Pictured: A supporter of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko places posters of her on a wall outside the jail in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday. Credit: Alexey Furman / Associated Press
27 hurt in Ukraine blasts; terror probe starts
(CNN) — Four explosions that rocked an eastern Ukrainian city on Friday have prompted a terror probe, the Ukrainian News agency reported.
A regional prosecutor’s office has started a “terrorist case” into the blasts in Dnepropetrovsk. The explosions went off in the course of 70 minutes and injured at least 27.
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych said a special investigation team will be set up to probe the explosions, the news agency reported.
“This is another challenge to the entire country,” the president told reporters in the country’s Crimea region. “We are thinking how to respond it properly. I am sorry this happened.”
The first blast went off in a trash can at a tram stop, injuring 13 people, the country’s Emergencies Ministry said. The second followed 40 minutes later near a movie theater. That injured 11, nine of them children. Three were injured in the third blast, and no one was hurt in the fourth, the ministry said.
Of those hurt, 24 have been hospitalized, it said.
Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko and other government officials traveled to the city after the blasts occurred.
The city, with just over 1 million in population, is one of the largest in the country, the CIA World Factbook says.
The incident raises concerns about security in Ukraine ahead of the European soccer championships, starting in June in both Poland and Ukraine.
Pictured: People try to help a woman injured by one of the blasts in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk on Friday
Europe death toll rises in big freeze
London (CNN) — Sub-zero temperatures continued to keep eastern Europe in their grip Wednesday, leading to the deaths of 31 people in Ukraine so far, emergency officials there said.
For several days, unusually cold weather and snow have slammed Eastern Europe, as well as other parts of Europe and central and western Turkey.
Pictured: In the Ukrainian capital of Kiev temperatures dropped to -20° degrees Celsius