Sunday, December 8
15:42 GMT: The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has launched a criminal case into “actions directed at a government takeover” in the country, the agency said in a statement. “Certain politicians” are suspected of undertaking unlawful actions with the ultimate aim of organizing a coup, the SBU said, adding that no charges have yet been filed in the case. Such actions are punishable by jail terms of five to 10 years, according to Ukrainian law.
15:21 GMT: Leaders of the Ukrainian opposition on Sunday have been considering who could take which roles in a “technocratic government” they intend to form in case the government resigns, Itar-Tass reported, citing “reliable” media sources. According to sources, Arseny Yatsenyuk of Batkivschina (Fatherland) party has claimed the role of prime minister, while Oleg Tyagnibok of Svoboda (Freedom) party has been selected as a possible Interior Minister and Viktor Pinzenyuk of Udar (Strike) party has the been eyeing the role of Finance Minister.
14:42 GMT: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will next week travel to Ukraine “to assist in finding a way out of the political crisis” in the country, says a communiqué published after talks between European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
14:29 GMT: Kiev police are “in a peaceful mood,” a spokesman for the Kiev Department of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass, calling on both the protesters and Ukrainian MPs “to refrain from unlawful actions.”
Meanwhile, police have been dispatched to cordon off the presidential residence located in a village in Kiev Region, a local police spokesman told RIA Novosti. The opposition on Sunday threatened to block President Yanukovych’s residence if the Ukrainian government does not resign in 48 hours, despite a court ban on all gatherings in the village.
13:38 GMT: Pro-EU protesters, including activists from the opposition Svoboda (Freedom) party, have blocked the street next to the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers. Metal shields and concrete flower-beds from a nearby park are being carried by the protesters to block the roads.
The opposition Udar (Strike) party’s leader, Vitaly Klitschko, who headed toward the government buildings with the demonstrators, says that they aim to block the whole government quarter of offices, while Batkivschina (Fatherland) leader Arseny Yatsenyuk says the protesters will be picketing outside the buildings of “ministries, tax administration and other institutions.”
13:12 GMT: Nearly 50,000 protesters have gathered on Independence Square (Maidan) and in nearby streets, according to police estimates. The police said 37,000 people are rallying on the square, as a large group of protesters marching toward government buildings with flags approached a thick police cordon surrounding the parliament (Verkhovna Rada) and the Cabinet of Ministers.
Barricades are now being erected in streets adjacent to the government buildings, but the protesters are not going to storm them, according to the opposition.
Opposition leaders are expecting the protests to continue “until the resignation of the government.”
12:40 GMT: The pro-EU protesters will from now on occupy “the whole government quarter” of the city where key offices are situated, says opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk, speaking from a stage on Maidan.
Watch RT’s Paul Scott’s latest report from Kiev:
12:36 GMT: A leader of the opposition Batkivschina (Fatherland) party called on a group of 30,000 pro-EU demonstrators rallying on Maidan to move toward the government buildings and “set up camp there.” The protesters have headed to the presidential administration building and to the Cabinet of Ministers, led by three shuttle buses with loudspeakers. The people are being asked to refrain from “aggressive actions” as the action is “peaceful.”
12:22 GMT: Nearly 1 million people have gathered on Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan), the Ukrainian opposition UDAR party claims. Meanwhile, police have estimated the number of those taking part in the pro-EU rally as “20,000 and growing.”
Some 15,000 people are taking part in a pro-government rally in support of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, said the Ukrainian ruling Party of Regions, which organized the rally. The rally participants, who started gathering in Mariinsky Park near the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, now occupy the entire square in front of the building, as well as part of a nearby street, according to an Itar-Tass correspondent reporting from the scene.
12:15 GMT: Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is currently serving a 7-year term in jail, has called on the protesters and the opposition not to enter talks with the Ukrainian government unless it resigns.
“Do not give up, do not take a step back, do not sit at the negotiation table with the regime,” Timoshenko said in her address to the Maidan protesters which was read out by her daughter Yevgenia.
Saying that the “removal” of President Yanukovych is the protesters’ main priority, Tymoshenko claimed that Yanukovych has “lost legitimacy when he refused to sign the EU association agreement.” She said she was convinced that Yanukovych is not going to sign the deal, and that the 2015 presidential election will be “rigged.”
She also called for forming a group for negotiations with the Ukrainian military, a group for investigating top-level corruption cases, and urged to form a new system of government.
12:00 GMT: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her party Christian Democratic Union (CDU), along with the European People’s Party (EPP), which unites EU’s conservative parties, are set to provide support to Vitaly Klitschko and his Strike (Udar) opposition party, reports German weekly Der Spiegel, citing sources in the government and EPP. A range of politicians in the EU want the pro-European Klitschko to become a key leader of the Ukrainian opposition. According to Spiegel, Merkel will meet with Klitschko in mid-December, on the sidelines of an EPP meeting in Brussels.
Udar will reportedly get “logistical support” as well as help in the development of the party structures and training for new members.
09:42 GMT: Five thousand supporters of the ruling Party of Regions have gathered for a pro-government rally in Kiev’s Mariinsky Park near the parliament, Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Channel 5 reports.
The participants of the rally, called under the slogan, “Let’s create Europe in Ukraine,” are urging a peaceful resolution of the current political crisis, and they condemn the opposition for what they see as an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country and to split Ukrainian society.
03:11 GMT: The opposition Batkivschina (Fatherland) party says Ukrainian authorities are planning to use around 1000 provocateurs to induce violence that will be used to install martial law, RIA Novosti reports.
„We warn the government that we know about these plans. We appeal to the people at Maidan asking them to be vigilant. We ask law enforcement officers to prevent the massacre and not be complicit in acts of provocation“, the statement said.
00:32 GMT: UN Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, upon completing his three-day visit to Ukraine, has expressed concern over the situation and warned against the use of force in Ukraine.
The Deputy Secretary General met with representatives of the government and the parliament as well as political parties and civil society organizations. At the end of the trip he recommended that all parties immediately begin a process aimed at de-escalation of tensions.