The children in Ukraine start school at the age of six or seven, depending on their parents’ choices. The school duty is valid for nine years, divided into two stages of four and five years respectively. In 2018, the two-year upper secondary school has been extended to three years, and the same applies to the alternative vocational secondary school.
Those who were in one of the grades 9–11 when the reform work began may continue their studies under the old system.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Ukraine, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
More than half of the children go to preschool before starting regular school. The preschool is free of charge. Even before the law change on extended schooling, almost all students read at least a couple of years after the nine-year compulsory school, either at study preparatory colleges or in vocational schools.
The schools are financed half of the state and half of the municipalities. There are also private schools, some with religious orientation. By law, minority groups must have the right to education in their own language.
During the war in eastern Ukraine that erupted in 2014, by 2016 hundreds of schools had been destroyed according to Human Rights Watch. It was said to have been mainly due to the fact that both the army and separatist forces used schools as places of work.
The Ukrainian education system is sometimes criticized for being too theoretically oriented and, in particular, the universities are described as being permeated by corruption, as are many other parts of society. According to several investigations, it is possible to buy approved grades and entire degrees.
Since independence in 1991, Ukrainian literature and history have had a prominent place in teaching. During the Soviet era (1922–1991), more than half of the students were taught Russian. In 2012, the proportion of pupils who were taught in Ukrainian was 82 percent. There are also schools with teaching in Romanian, Hungarian, Moldavian and Tatar.
The issue of language – especially the position of the Ukrainian and Russian respectively – has been spurred by the political conflict with Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula and Russian support to Moscow-friendly separatists in eastern Ukraine. In 2017, it was stipulated that all school education in Ukraine’s schools from grade five onwards should be given in Ukrainian from 2020, with minority languages possible as an option.
Ukraine has a dozen universities and over a hundred colleges. The Kyiv-Mohyla Academy National University, dating from the 17th century, opened in 1992 as the first private university in Ukraine. The university played a prominent role in the 2004 orange revolution (see Modern History). The oldest continuously operating university was founded in 1661 in Lviv, western Ukraine. In early 2015, Parliament passed a law requiring universities to be independent of the state and, among other things, responsible for their own economy.
- Educationvv: Provides school and education information in Ukraine, covering middle school, high school and college education.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
92.4 percent (2014)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
100.0 percent (2012)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
12.4 percent (2016)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
12.4 percent (2016)
2014 catastrophic for the economy
The governor notes that the Ukrainian economy shrank by 7.5 percent in 2014, that the inflation rate reached over 20 percent and that the hryvnia had lost half its value against Western currencies. She describes 2014 as the worst year for Ukraine since World War II. Just before that, Parliament has adopted a tight state budget for 2015 with increased taxes on imported goods and reduced social spending.
Well over 1,000 killed during “ceasefire”
According to the UN, until December 12, fighting in eastern Ukraine has claimed 4,707 human lives, of which 1,357 have been killed since the ceasefire formally entered into force on September 5. In a UN report, harsh criticism is directed at both the separatists and the government army for causing great suffering to the civilian population. Already in mid-November, the number of internally displaced persons was reportedly approaching half a million.
Economic reforms are approved
Approves the government’s economic reform program, which includes, among other things, a new tax system, increased energy prices and privatization of state-owned enterprises; The reforms are a prerequisite for new support loans from the IMF, the EU and others.
Pro-Western parties form government
The five pro-Western parties in Parliament form a coalition government. Together, by a good margin, they have a two-thirds majority, which allows them to make changes to the constitution. The new coalition sets its main goal for Ukraine to join NATO. Parliament approves a new government led by Arsenij Jatsenjuk, which Parliament has already given at the end of November clear to continue as prime minister. Former Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Hrojsman has been elected President. Among the new ministers are three foreign citizens: American Natalie Jaresko (of Ukrainian origin) becomes Minister of Finance, Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavičius becomes Minister of Economy and Georgian Alexander Kvitashvili becomes Minister of Health. President Poroshenko issues a decreewhich gives the three Ukrainian citizenship. The decision to take foreigners into heavy ministerial posts is seen as an attempt to win the public’s confidence in the government’s ambition to deal with the corruption that has permeated the Ukrainian state administration since independence.
Criticism against Russia at G20 meeting
The conflict in Ukraine has plenty of room at the so-called G20 countries summit in Australia. A number of leaders in Western countries have harshly criticized the Russian warfare and threatened with escalated sanctions. Russian President Putin leaves the meeting prematurely.
Reports on Russian military march
The Ukrainian military command states that two Russian military columns have crossed the border into Luhansk county with dozens of tanks, hubs, squadron vehicles and mobile radar stations. The OSCE confirms that its observers have seen a large number of heavily equipped military vehicles without registration plates in rebel-controlled areas. In the million town of Donetsk, the fighting continues as they have done all the time since the “ceasefire” came into force just over two months earlier.
Payment of gas debt to Russia
Ukraine makes a first installment of the equivalent of US $ 1.45 billion of its debt totaling US $ 3.1 billion to the Russian gas company Gazprom. The entire sum must be paid before the turn of the year for Ukraine to receive gas from Russia throughout 2015.
Breakout provinces should be financially strangled
Prime Minister Jatsenjuk announces that the state will cancel the budget support for Donetsk and Luhansk. Only supplies of gas and electricity to the rebel areas will continue. Shortly thereafter, President Poroshenko orders that all state service be withdrawn into the separatist-controlled areas, where in practice the ceasefire has completely collapsed and the fighting daily demands life. Schools, hospitals and emergency services operated by state funds must be closed.
Contested elections in the east
“Elections” are conducted in the “People’s Republics” Donetsk and Luhansk. The Ukrainian government, like the US and the EU, condemns the events as illegal, as a violation of the ceasefire agreement on 5 September and as a barrier to a peaceful solution to the conflict. Separatist leaders Aleksandr Zacharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky are elected “presidents” of Donetsk and Luhansk, respectively, with about 79 and 63 percent of the vote. The Russian government says that the result of the vote expresses the will of the people of southeastern Ukraine and that the two “people’s republics” now have a mandate to negotiate directly with the government in Kiev and that the government should interrupt military action against the separatists.
Parliamentary elections provide clear majority for EU-friendly parties
When the new election is held, Petro Poroshenko’s block becomes by far the largest, with a total of 132 of the 450 seats. When the votes on the party lists are counted, Prime Minister Jatsenjuks People’s Front looks about the same, but in the direct elections Petro Poroshenko’s block receives by far the greatest support. The public front has a total of 82 seats. The newly started pro-Western Party Self-Confidence gets 33 seats. The opposition bloc, formed by supporters of ousted President Yanukovych, gets a total of 29 seats, while the populist Radical Party gets 22 and Julia Tymoshenko’s Motherland gets 19. The Communist Party leaves Parliament for the first time since Ukraine became independent in 1991. Even right-wing extremist Svoboda misses 5-percent block stay in parliament thanks to the direct elections and get 6 seats. The right sector gets a candidate directly elected, which three more small batches succeed. 96 candidates without party affiliation will also have a seat in Parliament. All 12 mandates for Crimea become vacant, as do 15 districts (out of a total of 27) in the Donetsk and Luhansk counties, where no election can be carried out.
New anti-corruption laws
Parliament adopts a series of laws designed to counteract the corruption that has permeated society since independence and which is considered to have deteriorated significantly under Yanukovych’s rule. All government office staff, the judiciary and the police must declare their own and their families’ assets and financial transactions. In addition, the National Prosecutor’s Office will be reformed so that the authority can no longer, according to Soviet tradition, be used to harass oppositionists.
Russian economic threats
Putin writes in a letter to Poroshenko that Ukraine will be shut down from most of the Russian market if the FTA with the EU ever comes into force. The Russian Minister of Energy says that EU countries’ contracts with Russia do not give them the right to re-export Russian gas to Ukraine. If they do, they risk interrupting deliveries from Russia. The first EU country to succumb to Russian pressures is Hungary, which has been openly skeptical of EU sanctions on Russia. Prime Minister Orbán says the country cannot risk being without gas during the winter. Formally, however, technical problems are referred to when deliveries to Ukraine are stopped.
The breakers are offered self-government
The Ukrainian Parliament adopts far-reaching self-government laws for parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The “special position” area is granted for three years. But the dominant attitude is that the rebels accept nothing less than a total break with Ukraine.
Armistice is entered into but is broken quickly
Following OSCE- mediated negotiations in Minsk, the Ukrainian government and the rebels on September 5 agree on a ceasefire to be followed by prisoner exchange. The OSCE is assigned the task of monitoring the ceasefire. The ceasefire was broken almost immediately under mutual accusations as to which side began to shoot. Two weeks later, the Ukrainian government, Russia, the separatists and the OSCE sign a new agreement to strengthen the ceasefire.
Over a million in flight
UNHCR raises the number of homeless Ukrainians to almost 1.1 million. 814,000 have sought protection in Russia and at least 260,000 are on refuge within Ukraine. Many more thousands have moved to other neighboring countries and to the EU.
Army on Retreat; charges of Russian invasion
The Ukrainian army is forced to retreat from the airport outside Luhansk, which is attacked by what President Poroshenko describes as a Russian tank battalion. Poroshenko accuses Russia of “direct and open aggression”. According to the Minister of Defense, regular Russian associations are now in both Luhansk and Donetsk. He says that Ukraine is now facing a major war that could cost tens of thousands of people’s lives. Since the rebels went on the offensive, nearly 700 Ukrainian soldiers have been captured.
Russian interference creates conflict with the EU
President Putin calls for urgent negotiations on how to organize society and state government politically in southeastern Ukraine. This is the first time he has openly indicated an ambition to create some kind of Russian sound state in the area.
New elections are announced
President Poroshenko announces new elections to Parliament because a solution to the government crisis that failed in July failed to find a solution. Poroshenko also points to the problems of implementing reforms as long as many supporters of the ousted President Yanukovych remain in parliament.
Russian aid column across the border without permission
After waiting for just over a week on the Russian side of the border, a Russian column of 280 trucks drives into Ukraine without getting a Kiev sign. The Ukrainian security service chief accuses Russia of an invasion but says no force should be used against the vehicles. President Poroshenko talks about “a flagrant violation of international law”. The Russian intrusion is condemned in sharp terms by, among others, NATO and the US, which require the trucks to be withdrawn. As soon as they unload their cargo in Luhansk, they also return to Russia.
Russian TV is blocked
The government turns off 14 Russian TV channels from the Ukrainian cable network. The reason is that the broadcasts contained Russian “war propaganda”. Most channels are operated by the Russian state or by companies with close ties to the Russian leadership.
Refugee column is being fired
At least 17 civilians are killed when a bus column of Luhansk refugees is shot down with rockets. The army and the rebels blame each other. In Luhansk, street battles erupt in the center and in Donetsk the war reaches the center as well. Large civil losses are reported.
Ukrainians gain power in Donetsk
As more and more Russian citizens take over the leading political and military positions in the rebel movements in eastern Ukraine, a native Ukrainian, Aleksandr Zacharchenko, joins as “Prime Minister” in Donetsk. The formal change of power is supposed to be an attempt to strike back at those in the outside world who claim that Russian forces are behind the revolt.
The government is rocking
The parties Svoboda and Udar leave the government coalition to force new elections to Parliament. The parties point out that supporters of the ousted President Yanukovych sabotage Parliament’s activities. Udar has supported the coalition without having any ministerial posts.
Journalists live dangerously
During the first six months of the year, Ukraine has been the world’s most dangerous country for journalists, according to statistics from the international media organization INSI. Seven reporters and assistants have been killed. Reporters Without Borders says that more and more journalists are also being captured in eastern Ukraine. The organization accuses both separatists and the army of being behind the arrests.
Malaysian airliner is shot down, Russian responsibility is suspected
All 298 people on board are killed when a Malaysian passenger plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashes in eastern Ukraine. It takes place a few miles from the Russian border, in a rebel-controlled area where Prorussian separatists have previously shot down Ukrainian military planes. After three days of deliberations, the UN Security Council agrees on a sharply worded resolutioncondemning the shooting down of the Malaysian plane, demanding free access to the area of international casualties and urging all countries to cooperate with the investigators. Russia agrees with the resolution after passing through its demand that the investigation be led by the United Nations Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) instead of the Ukrainian state. The rebels now agree to observe the ceasefire in the disaster area and hand over the planet’s “black boxes” to international casualty investigators. Dutch crash investigators later state that the aircraft was hit by “a large number of objects which violently penetrated the plane’s hull”. According to investigators, there is no indication of any technical error on the plane or that the crew made a mistake.
EU sanctions are being expanded
The EU places another eleven of the highest leaders of the pro-Russian separatists on its sanctions list. The list now includes a total of 72 people and two companies that are considered to threaten Ukraine’s cohesion.
Stronger conflict around Donetsk
The army suffers one of its most severe individual losses when 23 soldiers are killed and nearly 100 are injured by a rocket fired by separatists near the Russian border. The battles surrounding Donetsk are fiercer and 70,000 residents are said to have left the city.
Liechtenstein barred money
Liechtenstein blocks around $ 30 million invested in the country by former Ukrainian President Yanukovych and people in his inner circle. An investigation into money laundering is added to the Principality.
The cooperation agreement with the EU is signed
Together with the other two former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova, Ukraine signs the June 27 Association Agreement. The agreement gradually gives Ukrainian export companies free access to the EU market and also means that the country receives technical and economic development support. In return, Ukraine pledges to live up to the EU’s demands for respect for democracy and human rights, the fight against corruption, a strengthened legal society and a reformed economic system. The Moscow government is commenting on the agreement in Brussels that Russia reserves the right to countermeasures should it harm the Russian economy.
Russian gas deliveries are stopped
Russia suspends gas deliveries to Ukraine since attempts to mediate through the EU if the price failed. However, Russian Gazprom says that deliveries via Ukraine to other European countries will continue.
The government takes Mariupol back
After fierce fighting, government forces regain control of the port city of Mariupol. President Poroshenko appoints Mariupol as temporary regional capital instead of Donetsk, ruled by rebels.
Boxing mayor in Kiev
In the local elections in Kiev, held at the same time as the presidential election, former boxing world champion Vitalij Klytjko is elected mayor of the capital. His party Udar gets his own majority in the city council.
Poroshenko is elected president
Company leader Petro Poroshenko wins the presidential election in the first round with 54.5 percent of the vote. In second place is former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko with just under 13 percent. According to the Election Commission, turnout is around 60 percent. The OSCE considers that the election “largely corresponds to democratic norms” and that it gives Poroshenko legitimacy. The election result is a major setback to Russian propaganda that the revolt against the former regime was dominated by Nazis and fascists. The two candidates for the right-wing extremists Svoboda and the Right Sector together receive less than two percent of the vote, clearly fewer than the Ukrainian representative’s main representative.
“Referendum” in the east
Separatists carry out a “referendum” in about ten cities ruled by pro-Russian activists in the Donetsk and Luhansk counties. In Donetsk, almost 90 percent of the participants said they voted yes to self-government, while just over 96 percent should have voted yes in Luhansk. Donetsk voter turnout is reported to have been close to 75 percent. The Kiev government condemns the “referendum” as a pure father inspired by Russia in its quest to destabilize Ukraine and dismiss the country’s government.
Struggles in Mariupol
In the port city of Mariupol near the Russian border, 20 separatists and a policeman are killed in fighting between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian military. The gunfire must have erupted since army soldiers and a domestic force arrived at the city’s police headquarters that a group of separatists tried to occupy.
Right-wing militia should support the government
A new semi-military volunteer force is formed to be deployed to the separatists in the east. The force is named Azov Battalion and has a strong right-wing nationalist profile. Many of the hundreds who join have the closest Nazi views.
Death after riots in Odessa
The conflict spreads to Odessa in southwestern Ukraine, where clashes between nationalist and pro-Russian protesters occur. At least 42 people are killed. Most victims are required inside a union building that is set on fire. The government dismisses the leadership of the local police after letting a pro-Russian crowd release 67 people arrested after the riots.
Separatists take over eastern cities
Pro-Russian separatists occupy police headquarters, town halls and other official buildings in more and more eastern cities. In at least a dozen major cities, the Kiev government has virtually no influence. In most cases, the local police are completely passive to the storms of the buildings. Acting President Turtynov says the army is in full combat preparedness for a feared Russian invasion, but that the government is “helpless” in the face of continued separate actions.
Observers are taken hostage by separatists
Eight unarmed military observers from the OSCE, including a Swedish major, are taken hostage with Ukrainian aides by separatists in Slovjansk. The Separatists accuse them of being a spy for NATO. The OSCE sends a new delegation to negotiate a release. The Swede is released after two days for health reasons. The others are released after just over a week.
The United States marks support for Ukraine
US Vice President Joe Biden visits Kiev to show support for the Provisional Ukrainian Government. The United States offers Ukraine $ 50 million in aid for economic and political reform, of which 11 million will help fund the presidential election. In addition, military, “non-lethal” equipment – including communications equipment and vehicles – is offered for $ 8 million.
New EU support
EU foreign ministers approve a new € 1 billion aid package to help Ukraine get its balance of payments organized. They also decide to lower tariffs on Ukrainian export goods, which could save the country almost half a billion euros a year.
Reform laws are passed
Parliament adopts a law governing state procurement. According to the government, about 40 percent of the money intended for government purchases has been wasted in recent years. The Procurement Act is one of the last conditions for Ukraine to be supported by the IMF. Previously, Parliament passed laws against corruption, allowed the currency to flow freely and raised the price of gas for households.
Rebellion in eastern Ukraine
The security service claims to have arrested 15 people who are supposed to have prepared an armed revolt in the eastern Luhansk region. A greater quantity of weapons must have been seized. In Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv, the central government buildings are stormed by pro-Russian protesters. In Donetsk, the activists proclaim the “Soviet People’s Republic of Donetsk” and urge Russia to send a “peacekeeping” force to the area. They also demand a referendum on accession to Russia. The Ukrainian government is accusing the Russian leadership of trying to repeat the “Crimean scenario” and having plans to send military across the border to “tear apart” Ukraine.
Voice figures in Crimea were false
The Russian Human Rights Council, appointed by Putin, reveals that the official figures from the “referendum” in Crimea were false. The Council’s investigation shows that only 30-50 percent of the inhabitants of the Kremlin participated in the vote, not 83 percent as claimed, and that only 50-60 per cent of them voted for accession to Russia, not 97 percent. In total, only 15-30 percent of the inhabitants of the peninsula would have supported the Russian annexation. The report is quickly removed from the Presidential Office’s website but remains on the Council’s Internet site.
Russian gas significantly more expensive
Russian gas producer Gazprom announces that Ukraine will no longer be able to buy gas at the reduced price agreed by Presidents Putin and Yanukovych in December. In a couple of days the price is raised twice, by a total of 81 percent. The price increases are justified by Ukraine’s inability to pay off debt from 2013. Gazprom demands immediate payment of USD 2.2 billion. The government refuses to accept the increase.
The UN condemns the “referendum” in Crimea
The UN General Assembly adopts a resolution condemning the Russian-supported referendum in Crimea as illegal. The resolution is adopted by 100 votes against 11 and 58 abstentions. As a result, the entire UN system will continue to regard Crimea as part of Ukraine.
Foreign loans with counterclaim
The IMF provisionally grants a US $ 14-18 billion loan. With estimated loans from various governments and other financial institutions, the total support for the next two years can amount to $ 27 billion. The loans require basic economic reforms in Ukraine, primarily a market-driven exchange rate, higher energy prices and a restructuring of the energy company Naftogaz.
OSCE observers to Ukraine
The OSCE decides to send civilian observers to Ukraine, up to 100 people, but up to 500 if needed. By the end of the month, Western experts estimate that around 30,000 Russian soldiers are in combat readiness near Ukraine’s eastern border.
Russian annexation of Crimea is completed
The rapid Russian annexation of Crimea is completed when President Putin signs a document. In less than a day, both chambers of the Russian parliament have approved the incorporation of the Ukrainian peninsula into Russia. Russian forces have continued to occupy Ukrainian military posts and the Ukrainian government will soon order total evacuation of all military and their families from Crimea.
Ukraine concludes political agreement with EU
Prime Minister Jatsenjuk writes in Brussels during the political part of the association agreement with the EU that Yanukovych rejected in November. The agreement ties Ukraine closer to the EU and, among other things, gives the country duty relief worth close to half a billion euros for trade in a range of agricultural products, textiles and other goods.
The EU and the US face sanctions
Both the EU and the US are responding to the referendum in Crimea with targeted sanctions on individuals, in Crimea and in Russia.
Unrest in eastern Ukraine
Following Donetsk clashes between pro-Russian and anti-Russian groups, the Moscow Foreign Ministry says Russia reserves the right to “protect Russian life” throughout Ukraine, as the Kiev government “does not have the situation under control”. US and Russia’s foreign ministers make an unsuccessful attempt to come to a peaceful solution to the crisis, after which Russia vetoes a US resolution proposal in the UN Security Council to declare the referendum illegal. Thirteen countries vote for the resolution and China abstains. Only Russia is opposed, and appears to be increasingly internationally isolated. Meanwhile, Russia is reported to continue bringing troops and military equipment to Crimea.
Crimea declares itself “independent”
The local parliament in Crimea is voting for the peninsula to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. This is already happening before an internationally criticized referendum on the issue held at the end of the month, in which close to 97 percent of voters vote yes.
International condemnation of Russia
The Russian action in Crimea, where 16,000 soldiers are reported to have led, triggers intensive international diplomatic activity in, for example, the EU, NATO, OSCE and the US. Russia is strongly and unanimously condemned for violations of international law and a number of agreements signed by the country, including the 1994 Budapest Memorandum (see Foreign Policy and Defense) which provided a guarantee of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The EU and the United States offer Ukraine financial support.
Highest preparedness after Russian threat
After Russian President Putin, after a few days of escalating war, has been signaled by the Russian parliament to intervene militarily in Ukraine, where “the lives of Russians are threatened”, the Ukrainian government speaks out on a declaration of war and continues to provide combat forces in supreme readiness. The Ministry of Defense prepares general mobilization and Prime Minister Jatsenjuk appeals to NATO, and in particular the United States and the United Kingdom, for concrete support. The two latter states are co-guarantors of Ukraine’s security under a 1994 agreement with Russia.
Russian takeover of the Crimea
The local Crimean parliament dismisses the regional government and appoints a new administration led by Sergei Aksionov from the Russian unity party. According to customary standards, the government of Kiev appoints the Crimean local government. Crimean parliament also votes to hold a local referendum on May 25, the same day as the Ukrainian presidential election, on the peninsula’s political position. A few days later, the referendum is scheduled for March 30.
Russian language of power in Crimea
In the Russian-dominated Crimea peninsula, tensions are rising and there are demonstrations of independence from Ukraine. The Russian flag is hoisted at official buildings in the largest cities and the Simferopol local parliament is occupied by heavily armed men. The Kiev government accuses Russia of being behind armed men taking control of two airports in Crimea. The Russian government denies that Russian soldiers are active in Crimea and says it is about local self-defense forces in private uniforms.
New government is formed
Parliament approves a new government to lead the country until a new president is elected. The Provisional Government is headed by Arsenij Jatsenjuk of the Fosterlands Party. The government is dominated by the Fatherland and party-bound academics, but several prominent activists from the protest movement are given assignments in the government, as is the right-wing nationalist Svoboda.
Russia breaks with Ukraine
The Russian government announces that all financial support for Ukraine will be suspended until further notice. Russia’s ambassador is called home from Kiev. Russian condemnations of rising “nationalism and neo-fascism” in western Ukraine are accompanied by Russian troops in the immediate area being alerted. Over 150,000 men, fighter jets and armor will participate in a military maneuver announced in western Russia, near the Ukrainian border.
Opposition takes over
In the president’s absence, so many of his allies leave the ruling party that the opposition gets a strong majority in parliament. They vote to oust Yanukovych and release Tymoshenko, who immediately flies back to Kiev. The presidential election is scheduled for May 25. One of Tymoshenko’s allies, Oleksandr Turtjynov, is elected President and temporarily also holds the position of President. The army, the police and the security service soon declare solidarity with the new leadership.
The president flies in spite of a new election and assembly government agreement
After one night’s talks with opposition leaders and EU representatives, Yanukovych concludes an agreement with the opposition leaders, which means, among other things, that a unifying government should be appointed, elections should be made and a new constitution written. But the message is received with skepticism among many activists at Independence Square, who demand that Yanukovych resign immediately and that elections should be held even before the summer. The president disappears and moves to eastern Ukraine where his support is strongest. His office and residence are placed unattended and taken over by the activists. A week later, Yanukovych shows up in Russia.
Police intervention triggers massacre of protesters
The most serious unrest so far is when riot police are preventing protesters from entering Parliament. Over two days, over 80 people are killed. The regime describes the activists as “terrorists” and the war of words is escalating. President Yanukovych replaces the army chief and the Defense Ministry says it is considering deploying soldiers in “anti-terrorist operations” around the country. The Deputy Army Commander resigns in protest against plans to deploy the army against civilians.
Continued Russian pressure
The opposition keeps the pressure on the regime. About 70,000 people demonstrate in Kiev on the second Sunday of the month. President Yanukovych visits the Winter Olympics in Russian Sochi, where he holds individual discussions with Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian leadership is also under pressure from Russia, which holds a second installment of the promised credit of $ 15 billion. So far, only 3 billion have been paid out. Russia demands, among other things, to first get paid for natural gas delivered to Ukraine. The bill is $ 3.3 billion.
The crisis deeper and deeper
Demonstrations against the government continue with tens of thousands of participants. In the middle of the month, Parliament adopts laws that make it more difficult for government-critical protests in Kiev: to ban tenting without a permit or to set up public speaking facilities. A law also makes it easier to apprehend suspected MPs. Laws trigger new mass protests, and violent clashes take place in central Kiev. Several protesters are killed and hundreds injured in clashes with police. Negotiations between Yanukovych and the three opposition leaders produce no results. Both the EU and the US warn of “consequences” unless Yanukovych causes the violence to be stopped. Russia accuses the Western powers of interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs. At the end of the month, the newly introduced anti-protest laws will be lifted on a proposal by President Yanukovych at a parliamentary crisis meeting. At the same time, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government are submitting their resignation. Azarov is temporarily replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Serhi Arbuzov. Azarov’s decision is welcomed by the opposition, which has long demanded the resignation of the government.