The Times West Virginian

Headline News

June 8, 2014

Ukraine’s new president strikes defiant tone on Crimea

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Petro Poroshenko’s inaugural address after taking the oath of office in parliament gave little sign of a quick resolution to the conflict in the east, which Ukrainian officials say has left more than 200 people dead.

He also firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “was, is and will be Ukrainian.” He gave no indication of how Ukraine could regain control of Crimea, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has said was allotted to Ukraine unjustly under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Hours after the speech, Putin ordered security tightened along Russia’s border with Ukraine to prevent illegal crossings, Russian news agencies said. Ukraine claims that many of the insurgents in the east have come from Russia; Poroshenko on Saturday said he would offer a corridor for safe passage of “Russian militants” out of the country.

Rebel leaders in the east dismissed Poroshenko’s speech.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

Poroshenko offered amnesty to rebels who “don’t have blood on their hands.” But “I don’t believe it,” said Valery Bolotov, the insurgent leader in the Luhansk region. Rebels in both Luhansk and Donetsk have declared their regions independent.

The new president promised “I will bring you peace,” but did not indicate whether Ukrainian forces would scale back their offensives against the insurgency, which Ukraine says is fomented by Russia.

Russia has insisted on Ukraine ending its military operation in the east. Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov, representing Moscow at the inauguration, said Poroshenko’s statements “sound reassuring,” but “for us the principal thing is to stop the military operation,” adding that the insurgents should also stop fighting in order to bolster the delivery of humanitarian aid, RIA Novosti reported.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25.  He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands — please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely ... America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

———

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • W.Va. man arrested after child found in hot car

    A Wheeling man faces charges that he left his 18-month-old daughter in a hot car while he was asleep on a couch.

    July 29, 2014

  • Board to meet on dangerous animals list

    CHARLESTON (AP) — A board tasked with compiling a list of animals that are illegal to keep as pets in West Virginia will consider one that’s shorter than a list suggested earlier.

    July 28, 2014

  • Clinton impeachment shadows GOP lawsuit against Obama

    The last time Republicans unleashed impeachment proceedings against a Democratic president, they lost five House seats in an election they seemed primed to win handily.

    July 28, 2014

  • Study: Fist bumps less germy than handshakes

    When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, maybe the president is on to something with his fondness for fist bumps.

    July 28, 2014

  • Obama Exporting Pollu_time.jpg ‘Not in my backyard’: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad

    As  the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution.
    This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine President Barack Obama’s strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and reveals a little-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem. The contribution of this exported pollution to global warming is not something the administration wants to measure, or even talk about.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S.: Russia fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists has crossed the border.
    The images, which came from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, show blast marks where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 — after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

    July 28, 2014

  • Plan to simplify health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.
    Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts.
    If those amounts are too low, consumers could get sticker shock over their new premiums. Too high, and they’ll owe the tax man later.

    July 28, 2014

  • W.Va. Judge: WVU, IMG College deal is OK

    A judge has denied a motion by West Virginia Radio Corp. to toss the media rights contract between West Virginia University and IMG College.
    Media outlets report Monongalia County business court circuit judge Thomas Evans set aside a motion for summary judgment against WVU and others.
    West Virginia Radio was seeking to void any contract entered by WVU and IMG. West Virginia Radio unsuccessfully bid on the contract, then filed a motion for summary judgment in February, claiming school officials violated state procurement laws.
    Evans ruled the code cited by the plaintiffs didn’t apply to the $86.5 million, 12-year agreement reached last year.

    July 28, 2014

  • Powerful storms rip through eastern U.S.

    Powerful storms raking across several states in the eastern U.S. on Sunday have destroyed at least 10 homes in Tennessee, and there were no immediate reports of any deaths or injuries, authorities said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Lawmakers say Obama too aloof with Congress

    President Barack Obama’s request for billions of dollars to deal with migrant children streaming across the border set off Democrats and Republicans. Lawmakers in both parties complained that the White House — six years in — still doesn’t get it when it comes to working with Congress.

    July 27, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads