• Friday, August 22, 2014

Ukraine opposition leader urges West to act

BBC Online
Anti-government protesters show no sign of abandoning barricades in Kiev. Photo: Reuters
Anti-government protesters show no sign of abandoning barricades in Kiev. Photo: Reuters

A senior Ukrainian opposition leader has called for the West to give more support to help solve his country's political crisis.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine needed "a Marshall Plan, not martial law", referring to the post-World War Two US aid programme for Europe.

Yatsenyuk has been talking to foreign leaders on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet him on Saturday.

Ukraine has been in turmoil since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych pulled out of an agreement with the EU in favour of a Russian bailout.

Protesters have since occupied some government buildings in the capital Kiev and other cities.

After talks with German President Joachim Gauck and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday, Yatsenyuk told the Agence France-Presse news agency: "Our German partners expressed their words of support to the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedoms and liberties."

He added: "Ukraine desperately needs a Marshall Plan and not martial law in order to stabilise the political and economic situation in the country."
Talking point

Yatsenyuk, who heads the Batkivshchyna party, recently refused an offer from President Yanukovych to become prime minister.

He has been joined in Munich by fellow opposition leader and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.

Correspondents say the crisis in Ukraine is a major talking point at the security conference, an annual event held to discuss military and political affairs.

Before arriving in Munich, Kerry said that offers from President Yanukovych had "not yet reached an adequate level of reform".

Kerry said he would also try to persuade Moscow that an agreement in Ukraine was in its interest. He held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday night.

Russia has warned the EU and other Western powers not to meddle in the Ukrainian crisis.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara is also at the Munich conference but it is unclear if he will meet Kerry.

'CRUCIFIED'

Kozhara did however meet the German foreign minister who raised the case of Dmytro Bulatov, the protester who says he was kidnapped and tortured.

Steinmeier "strongly urged" Kozhara to do nothing to prevent Bulatov from leaving Ukraine and receiving medical treatment in Germany if that is what he wants, German government sources said.

Protesters have been faced with freezing temperatures. Photo: Reuters
Protesters have been faced with freezing temperatures. Photo: Reuters

On Friday, medical workers blocked police from questioning Bulatov at the Kiev hospital where he is recovering from his injuries.

The 35-year-old, who went missing for eight days, said he had been "crucified" by his captors. He did not know who had abducted him but said they had spoken with Russian accents.

Police said they had opened an inquiry into Bulatov's abduction and were trying to question him about it. Opposition activists, however, said officers went to the hospital to arrest him.

TV reports later said officers had left without questioning Bulatov, but police guards had been posted at the hospital.

Amnesty International has described Bulatov's ordeal as a "barbaric act which must be investigated immediately".

Also on Friday, Ukraine's defence minister said the army had urged President Yanukovych to take "urgent steps within the limits of existing legislation" to ease the crisis.

A statement said the military had labelled as "unacceptable" the occupation of government buildings by protesters.

Soldiers have not yet been deployed against protesters during the crisis.

President Yanukovych, who is on sick leave, has tried to ease the crisis by repealing anti-protest laws, signing an amnesty for protesters and accepting the resignation of his cabinet.

However, opposition leaders are calling for his resignation and early elections.

Published: 10:59 am Saturday, February 01, 2014

Last modified: 9:47 pm Saturday, February 01, 2014

TAGS: US Ukraine Germany Kerry Talk

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