This follows on from this post, which I have been updating for the last two days, and has a rough chronology of the crisis, plus lots of links. Blogger is still playing up, but I will try and continue to cover the situation…
Overnight more allegations of a near-blackout on local Ukranian and Russian media, plus reports of Russian Spetsnaz troops in Ukraine, flown in to protect Russia’s man, Yanukovych – but some of them have started backing the opposition leader, Yushchenko… An official US election observer has described the situation at “revolutionary”.
“for several hours local residents of Vasyl’kov… are holding up buses with spetsnaz squads that are trying to leave the territory of the local military school. According to the reports from Vasyl’kov, the number of spetsnaz soldiers goes over 1000. According to the same reports, half of the spetsnaz soldiers are from Simferopol (the Crimea), the other half are Russian.”
“people call from Donetsk and Lugansk and say about such pressure that I am horrified. I have never suspected we have anything like this in Ukraine. I want to go to sleep, but I can’t tear myself away from the radio…”
“According to obozrevatel.com, spetsnaz squads that are guarding the building of the Presidential Administration, have declared about their support of Victor Yushchenko. This has been reported by a people’s deputy Vladimir Filenko, – says obozrevatel correspondent.
“Most spetsnaz soldiers have put on orange orange ribbons. They behave friendly and tolerantly. Yushtshenko and Tymoshenko, surrounded with supporters, are trying to enter the building of the Presidential Administration.”
“Two TV channels, Inter and 1st National, are now broadcasting speeches by pro-athoritarian local administrations. Yesterday, most journalists have refused to broadcast lies on these channels, and Ukraine couldn’t hear any news on TV channels other than 5.”
The Denver Post has emails from election observer, Colorado Congressman Bob Schaffer. He repeats the story about “Russian special forces in Ukrainian uniforms,” plus states that “Rumors are now circulating that outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has fled his country and is now in St. Petersburg, Russia.”
“Yuschenko is now leading one million people from the square and surrounding streets to the administration headquarters of the Ukrainian government. He is in front of the column and many fear he is vulnerable to getting shot. They should be at the steps in 15 mins. Keep in mind, this is where the Russian special forces are stationed, dressed in Ukrainian garb…
“Russian special forces dressed in Ukrainian Special forces uniforms are in Kyiv. Ukrainian militia have been instructed by the mayor to protect the people from the Russian troops…
“Provocateurs are infiltrating the crowd. Special forces are said to be moving in to disband the crowd. This is now a clearly declared revolutionary effort. A confrontation seems unavoidable now.”
Neeka, also on the scene, repeats these fears – “I don’t understand how confrontation can be avoided. Maybe those Yanukovych guys will be shocked by the numbers and determination of their opponents and will deem it more reasonable to switch sides – but that’s not too likely…”
TulipGirl also has an on-the-scene update – including reports of the number of people protesting in Ukraine’s main towns.
Other blogs have picked up on the crisis now – let me know if there are more:
More to come…
10:30am: The periscope’s world press round-up is worth a look. The media finally seem to have taken note of what’s going on, and to give it a bit more of the coverage it deserves…
10:40: More people are chipping in at The Periscope with reports that students from Kharkiv’s five largest universities have gone on a no-time-limit hunger-strike, and that “500 Yuschenko supporters from Cherkasy (region neighboring Kyiv) are piqueting local authorities’ building urging them to remove road blocks on the Cherkasy-Kyiv highway and allow people to join the deminstrations in Kyiv.”
Someone’s started a blog devoted to the campaign with some good stuff on there already.
10:55: Histologion points out that this was all predicted two months ago.
The revolution will be Blogged – yep, the bloggosphere seems to be doing a decent job on this one. Technorati is now only an hour or so behind, and the number of sites covering the Ukraine has grown exponentially since this time yesterday.
Keep it up folks – the more attention there is on this, the less chance of violence – no one will risk it when in the media spotlight, and we can help focus that spotlight where it’s needed.
11:15am: The White House statement plus a declaration from the international election observers – “Official observers and members of regional election commissions were removed after the first round of the presidential elections under the threat of use of a physical force.”
11:25am: TulipGirl’s gone orange!
11:35am: What would a Yanukovych mean for Ukraine? Well, according to Radio Free Europe’s correspondent, not much would change: “law enforcement would… remain largely under the control of the presidential administration, “guidance” of the press would remain the norm, and the scandals of the Kuchma administration might go unpunished.”
11:40am” More worrying news, courtesy of Vlad, who seems to have taken over Victor’s duties at The Periscope:
“In his interview to Channel 5, Oleg Yeltsov, an independent journalist, stated he has reliable information that 800 soldiers of Russian spetsnaz arrived to Kiev to Vasykivs’kyy airport. They are changing into uniforms of Crimean spetsnaz. He also stated that they could be invited only by Leonid Kuchma, and called it a crime… Obozrevatel website reports that 5th Channel, one of the few independent TV channels, went off the air in the Crimea, Lugansk city and Lugansk Region.”
Midday: Foreign Notes, another Kiev blog, has some good stuff:
“I think the jury’s out on whether what Yuschenko and his supporters are doing will be enough to take power. I thought no two days ago, but now I am not so sure. Calls for negotiations and the military not all on board and some members even threatening retaliation are not signs of a secure power base. But we will have to see.”
Meanwhile, Victor’s back with a Livejournal page which seems to be receiving regular Ukranian updates from people on the scene, for those who can read it.
1:00pm: Yushchenko’s people are apparently claiming to have information that two hours after the announcement of the election results (expected 2pm London time), “Russian spetsnaz troops are supposed to sweep the streets in the center of Kyiv and Independence Square. Lighting in the streets will be off, power will be shut down, pro-government newspapers are hastily purchasing power generators and candles and recalling their journalists back from the streets. Kuchma will leave the country (probably fly to StPetersburg for an announced meeting with Putin) and leave the country to Yanukovich for a while.”
1:10pm: A good post on Ukraine past and future.
1:30pm: International implications
Where are the voices from the other 50% of the Ukranian population, the ones who voted for Yanukovich? It’s got to the stage we need more balance to this… It can’t be as simple as Yushchenko = good, Yanukovich = evil.
1:50pm: There are rumours that tanks will enter Kiev to put down the protests at 6pm Ukraine time – 4pm UK time. Two hours…
2pm: The Kyiv Post confirms troop movements and estimates the protestors numbering about one million. The official election result is expected any minute – could this kick off the violence, which has been threatened now for the last two days?
2:10pm: Maidan also reports 6pm as the time the shit will hit the fan: “the outgoing power is preparing a provocation on the Independence Square (Maidan). At 6 oï¿½clock (Kiyiv time) illumination on the Independence Square may be turned off and against indignant crowd the Russian special police units ï¿½Vytyazï¿½ï¿½ may be used.”
2:20pm: Foreign Notes also reports that “Russian spetznaz–Russian!– forces special forces are there now with tanks and APCs on their way from other parts of the Ukraine. There should be an international outcry over this.”
Is this an invasion, a revolution, a coup, a revolt, a protest, or a civil war?
2:40pm: A poster at The Periscope provides a transcript/translation of Yushchenko’s speech in Independence Square:
“To the soliders, militiamen, commanders, chiefs of Armed Forces and police structures of Ukraine
I, Viktor Juschenko, appeal to you in the name of Ukrainian people, which elected me to President. Today our people stay on the central squares in the hundreds of cities. People demand to recognize their vote.
You eyewitness crime. It makes the government, which wants to keep in Ukraine the regime of lawlessness and corruption. Having stolen the votes of your siters and brothers, the power wants to cause the people to obedience.
But today, as always, acts oath, but not the criminal orders. Thousands of the people with epaulets have confirmed their vow, dozens of military units and departments of internal affairs. They are with Ukrainian people.
You should know: the criminals want to throw you to the barricades. But their sons will be absent there. They will run away. But we all have to stay here, we have to build new Ukraine. It needs your honesty, expirience and professionality.
I appeal to the chiefs of force structures – you are responsible for the order. You should deny using weapons against the people.
Also you must in any situation do not allow appearing of foreign military units in Ukraine.
Make responsible orders. To be silient means to connive crime.
Ukraine needs your bravery. To the victory of truth left one step. Do it together with the people. “