Putin warns against meddling in Ukraine

2014-01-29 08:26
Russian president Vladimir Putin. (File, AP)

Russian president Vladimir Putin. (File, AP) (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kiev - Ukraine's government resigned on Tuesday and parliament scrapped anti-protest laws in major concessions to the opposition as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against foreign meddling in the former Soviet state.

Giving in to opposition pressure and protests that have spread far beyond Kiev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said he was quitting to preserve the unity of the country.

Azarov will be replaced in an interim capacity by deputy prime minister Sergiy Arbuzov, a fellow loyalist of President Viktor Yanukovych, while other ministers will stay on until a new cabinet is named.

It was not clear who would succeed Azarov as prime minister, although some analysts floated the idea that a pro-opposition tycoon, Petro Poroshenko, might step into the post.

World boxing champion and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said the announcement of Azarov's and the government's resignation was "not victory but a step to victory".

Parliament also on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to repeal the same contentious anti-protest laws it had approved just two weeks ago, a move that had re-ignited the crisis.

Russia won’t interfere

The protests began in November as a drive for EU integration after Yanukovych under Russian pressure ditched a key deal with the bloc.

They have since snowballed into a wider movement against his rule, spreading into his heartland in the mostly Russian-speaking east.

Attending an EU-Russia summit in Brussels two months after the tug-of-war between the two blocs ignited the crisis, Putin warned his hosts against meddling.

"The more intermediaries there are, the more problems there are," he said, even as the EU sent its foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to Kiev, bringing her visit forward by several days.

The Kremlin leader also emphasised that Russia "will not" review its $15bn bailout for Ukraine whoever is in charge in Kiev - a relief for the economy, which is hugely reliant on the credit.

"Russia will never interfere," Putin said.

US Vice President Joe Biden spoke to Yanukovych for the second time in as many days Tuesday and welcomed "progress made today" in meeting some of the opposition's demands.

Later Tuesday, President Barack Obama, in his annual State of the Union address, called for the views of pro-democracy protesters to be heeded.

"In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country's future," Obama said.

Release of protesters

Yet the dramatic twists in the crisis do not spell an end to Ukraine's crisis as two central opposition demands - the release of jailed protesters and early elections - remain unresolved.

Lawmakers are to gather again on Wednesday to debate the release of scores of protesters.

The presidency earlier said it wanted to make the amnesty conditional on protesters vacating official buildings they have seized and occupied and taking down their barricades.

The opposition has ruled this out and wants Yanukovych to bring forward to this year a presidential election scheduled for early 2015.

"We are here so that the president also resigns to change the system of power in the country," said Vasyl, aged 49, from the Ivano-Frankivsk region of western Ukraine, one of the protesters camped out with thousands of others on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Militants remain camped out in the sprawling military-style enclosure that has taken over much of the city centre and is surrounded by barbed wire and barricades topped with pikes.

Jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said Tuesday's concessions were the "first real result from the fight of people who took to the streets".

But she added: "It is not enough. Do not stop!"

Biden called for compromises "that can bring political unity, win the confidence of the Ukrainian people, and take Ukraine in the direction of Europe by strengthening democratic institutions and making the reforms necessary to achieve economic prosperity".

There is still concern for Ukraine on the economic front. Standard & Poor's on Tuesday downgraded the country's credit risk rating by one notch to CCC+ from B-, citing political instability.

Western leaders were mostly cautious, with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying he hoped Azarov's resignation was a "signal" for further dialogue.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a prominent critic of Yanukovych's actions, said on Twitter he "warmly welcomed" the moves by parliament and was hoping for more steps.

Canada, which has a large Ukrainian minority, praised the courage of protesters and on Tuesday said it would refuse entry to any government officials linked to the crackdown.

Read more on:    eu  |  vladimir putin  |  vitali klitschko  |  joe biden  |  viktor yanukovych  |  barack obama  |  ukraine
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Power and leadership are emphasized today. It is important to strategize and delegate well otherwise you may end up with too much...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.