Irish Times

Parliament votes to send Yanukovich to be tried by the International Criminal Court

A member of a civilian defence unit warms up by a fire at Independence Square in Kiev today. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/The New York TimesA member of a civilian defence unit warms up by a fire at Independence Square in Kiev today. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/The New York Times

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 16:12

   

Ukraine’s acting president warned today about the increasing signs of signs of separatism and threats to the country’s territorial integrity.

Speaking following a meeting of security chiefs in the Crimea today acting president Oleksander Turchinov said anyone who found responsible for separatist moves should be punished.

Protesters on the southern peninsula have staged rallies against Ukraine’s new leaders since president Viktor Yanukovich was ousted.

Earlier today Ukraine’s parliament voted to send Mr Yanukovich to be tried by the International Criminal Court for “serious crimes” committed during violent anti-government protests in which scores were killed.

A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Mr Yanukovich, who was ousted on Saturday and is now on the run, to police violence against protesters which it said had led to the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states.

The Hague-based court said it would need a request from the government of Ukraine giving it jurisdiction over the deaths.

With early elections set for May 25th, one of Ukraine’s most prominent opposition figures, retired world boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, confirmed he would run for president.

Mr Yanukovich was indicted for “mass murder” on Monday over the shooting of demonstrators and is now on the wanted list, having last been seen at Balaclava in Crimea, near Russia’s Sevastopol naval base.

An aide said be on the run with Mr Yanukovich was shot in the leg, his spokesman said. It was not clear where the aide, Andriy Klyuev, was, or whether he with the fugitive leader.

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New Ukraine leader pleads for unity as protesters in Crimea shout ‘Russia, Russia’ and tensions grow between Kiev and Moscow in wake of ‘revolution’

  • Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism
  • Pro-Russian crowds gather in southern region of Crimea
  • Visiting Russian politician says it will protect compatriots from danger
  • Moscow faces claims it colluded in death of dozens of demonstrators
  • Former Kremlin advisor warns Moscow could annexation Crimea next week
  • Vladimir Putin ‘sweeping aside Western warnings and preparing troops’
  • Ousted president Viktor Yanukovich is still on the run from authorities
  • But it is revealed a former aide, also a fugitive, has been shot in the leg

By Will Stewart and Leon Watson

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Ukraine’s new leader has made a desperate plea for unity as experts warn Russia might annex the increasingly tense region of Crimea.

Interim president Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. It came as UK and US foreign ministers met to discuss emergency financial assistance for the country.

Addressing the country’s parliament, Mr Turchynov said he would meet law enforcement agencies to discuss the risk of separatism in regions with large ethnic Russian populations.

Separatism was a ‘serious threat’, he said.

Plea: Interim President Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism in the Ukrainian parliament today

Plea: Interim President Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism in the Ukrainian parliament today

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, chaired a security council meeting in the Kremlin today, attended by among others the foreign secretary, Sergey Lavrov (second from left). Its conclusions were not made public but tensions between Moscow and Kiev have mounted amid claims of Russian involvement in the killings of protesters whose demonstrations led to the removal of Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow.

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, chaired a security council meeting in the Kremlin today, attended by among others the foreign secretary, Sergey Lavrov (second from left). Its conclusions were not made public but tensions between Moscow and Kiev have mounted amid claims of Russian involvement in the killings of protesters whose demonstrations led to the removal of Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow.

Political heavyweight: Ukrainian opposition leader and head of the UDAR (Punch) party Vitaly Klitschko has revealed he will run for the presidentcy

Political heavyweight: Ukrainian opposition leader and head of the UDAR (Punch) party Vitaly Klitschko has revealed he will run for the presidentcy

Mr Turchynov was speaking as tensions mounted between Kiev and Moscow in the wake of former president Vyktor Yanukoych being removed from power and fleeing the Ukrainian capital.

In the latest escalation, Ukraine’s parliament called for the former president to be put in front of the International Criminal Court at the Hague for ‘human rights abuses’, including ordering the deaths of protesters in Kiev who eventually prompted him to flee and be deposed.

One MP claimed there was a ‘smoking gun’ which linked the deaths of the protesters directly to the Kremlin, with a former Russian intelligence officer helping direct operations which lead to the death of more than 80 demonstrators.

The MP, Hennadiy Moskal, a former deputy interior minister, said he had found the evidence at the interior ministry and in files at the SBU, the secret police in the country.

‘The Interior Ministry and the SBU were assisted in the preparations for these special operations by the former deputy head of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate who lived in the Kiev hotel (his accommodation and meals were paid for by the SBU),” said Moskal.

“All the information regarding this Russian will be handed over to the PGO, [the Hague court's prosecutor general's office] and the investigation will reveal the extent of his guilt.”

The suggestion of Russian involvement in the deaths will only increase tensions – particularly over the Crimea, the majority-Russian area where the Kremlin’s Black Sea naval fleet is based, and where it is thought Yanukoych is in hiding.

 In Sevastapol, the home port of the Russian fleet, the local mayor was forced to quit after removing a Russian flag, and replaced by Aleksei Chaliy, a pro-Moscow politician after a meeting at which people shouted ‘Russia, Russia’ and: ‘A Russian mayor for a Russian city.’

There are widespread fears in Ukraine that Russia will move to annex the Crimea, which was added to the then Soviet republic of Ukraine in 1954 and where Ukrainians are in a minority.

Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of the Moscow parliament used a visit to the Crimea to say that Russia will protect its compatriots there if their lives are in danger.

Slutsky, speaking at a meeting with local activists, did not detail what that might involve, but a former Kremlin advisor warned a Russian annexation of Sebastopol could happen within a week.

Likening the situation to Nazi Germany’s takeover of Austria, Andrey Illarionov said a furious Russian president Vladimir Putin is sweeping aside Western warnings and putting troops on alert.

A Russian flag is seen flying outside the state and city administration building in the Crimean city of Sevastopol

A Russian flag is seen flying outside the state and city administration building in the Crimean city of Sevastopol

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Begging for forgiveness, the riot police blamed for dozens of deaths in Kiev: ‘Brutal’ security forces get down on their knees but are greeted with shouts of ‘shame’

  • Extraordinary scenes in Lviv involved Berkut elite anti-riot force
  • The officers had returned from fighting protesters in the capital
  • Crowds greeted them with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’
  • But in Odessa and Crimea, returning Berkut police have been cheered
  • Also revealed some police have disappeared along with weapons

By Will Stewart

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Riot police in Ukraine fell to their knees to ask for forgiveness for their colleagues who shot and beat antigovernment protesters in the recent Kiev massacre.

The extraordinary scenes in Lviv involved the Berkut elite anti-riot force whose members had returned from duty in the capital.

They apologised on a stage in front of pro-Europe protesters.

 

Riot police kneel as they apologize to Lviv residents for taking part in an operation against anti-government protesters in Kiev

Riot police kneel as they apologize to Lviv residents for taking part in an operation against anti-government protesters in Kiev

The officers told locals that they did not beat protesters, during a rally in central Lviv

The officers told locals that they did not beat protesters, during a rally in central Lviv

Officers from Lviv Berkut Special Police Unit beg people of Ukraine to forgive them

Officers from Lviv Berkut Special Police Unit beg people of Ukraine to forgive them

Returning from duty in Kiev, crowds greeted them with chants of 'Shame!' and 'Tribunal'

Returning from duty in Kiev, crowds greeted them with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’

‘I am asking you to forgive us,’ said an officer who stood in front of other men. In memory of those who were killed, we want to kneel down.’

The officers were greeted with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’ but they stressed they had not killed or beaten people themselves.

 Today it was revealed that some Berkut riot police personnel have disappeared along with weapons.
Begging for forgiveness: Members of Berkut anti-riot unit prepare to leave their barracks in Kiev

Begging for forgiveness: Members of Berkut anti-riot unit prepare to leave their barracks in Kiev

Interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the officers were alarmed at the prospect of an investigation into their conduct on Independence Square when dozens of protesters were killed last week.

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