Let’s tie up some loose ends on Ukraine, even as much uncertainty remains.
Documents Reveal Plans to Use Army on Civilians
Financial Times: Papers reveal Yanukovich plans to turn army against protesters
The Yanukovich regime had drawn up plans for a massive crackdown on protesters in Kiev using thousands of police and troops – and the chief of Ukraine’s armed forces on Thursday last week ordered 2,500 army troops into the capital for an “antiterrorist” operation.
That order was never fulfilled, but leaked documents on Monday showed just how close Kiev came to a bloodbath that could have far exceeded the 100 deaths that occurred in clashes with police and snipers in downtown Kiev last week.
As well as the military documents, Ukrainian journalists were on Monday combing through piles of papers found dumped near Mr Yanukovich’s luxury home outside Kiev, giving a fresh glimpse into his lavish spending and lifestyle.
One document apparently found at the log-built mansion at Mezhyhirya, posted online by Mustafa Nayem, an investigative journalist with the Ukrainskaya Pravda website, was a receipt for $12m in cash. Others included receipts stretching into millions of dollars for spending on decor at a gaudy home that has become a focal point of public rage.
But the most chilling were military and security papers. One set revealed that snipers who killed dozens of protesters on Kiev’s central square last Thursday came from Ukraine’s “Omega” special forces.
Hunt for Yanukovich
Financial Times: On the trail of Ukraine’s missing Viktor Yanukovich
Viktor Yanukovich’s whereabouts remained unknown for a third day on Monday, as rumours swirled that Ukraine’s deposed president was hiding out in Crimea, a pro-Moscow stronghold with easy water access to Russia via the Black Sea.
While a few Ukrainian news outlets reported on Sunday night that Mr Yanukovich had succeeded in fleeing the country on his private yacht – the Bandido – by late Monday there were no reports of his arrival at a foreign destination. His options for escape, meanwhile, appeared to be narrowing.
Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister, announced early Monday that the new government had opened up a criminal case against Mr Yanukovich for “the mass murder of peaceful citizens”. He added the government had been keeping careful watch over the former president’s movements.
Russia Denounces Interim Leaders
Financial Times: Moscow takes aim at Ukraine’s interim leaders and the west
Russia denounced Ukraine’s interim leaders as dictators on Monday and blasted the western governments that it said helped bring them to power, in a sign that the toppling of President Viktor Yanukovich is triggering a regional stand-off.
The Russian foreign ministry claimed the new leadership was infringing on the human rights of Russians and other minorities in Ukraine. “This is headed towards the suppression of dissent in several regions of Ukraine by dictatorial and sometimes almost terrorist means,” the ministry said in a statement.
Russia’s furious statements came as the new Ukrainian authorities intensified their hunt for ousted president Viktor Yanukovich, who has not been seen since Friday, and tensions rose in Crimea, the Russia-friendly peninsula on the Black Sea.
In the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, home of Russia’s Black Sea naval base, hundreds of pro-Russia protesters massed outside the city’s main administrative building on Monday for more than five hours until the city council agreed to allow Alexei Chaliy, a Russian businessman, to take over immediately as mayor.
Waving Russian flags and wearing the arm bands of Russian Block, Crimea’s leading pro-Russia political party, the crowd grew angry, shouting slogans such as “We won’t let a fascist in!” and “Russia! Russia!”
Financial Times: Open house at Yanukovich’s fabled palace
Ukrainians expressed shock and disgust as the full extent of Viktor Yanukovich’s opulent lifestyle was revealed at the weekend.
Alerted via social media that Mezhyhirya – the president’s fabled luxury estate, was no longer under heavily armed guard, thousands of people made the 15km trip from the capital to take a tour of the mansion and its attractions.
What they found was a 127-hectare site including manicured garden, a golf course, tennis courts, a shooting range, swimming pools and a marina as well as horses’ stables. The purpose-built, five-storey dacha – essentially a large log cabin – was decorated with elaborate furniture and expensive chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
Photographs on Twitter showed animals in a private zoo, a vintage car collection and a replica galleon on a lake. Visitors and commentators on social media expressed anger and disgust at the excesses revealed.
“I wanted to see where the money he [Mr Yanukovich] has stolen went,” said Oleksander Heruk, 24, a computer programmer who visited the mansion.
“The first thing that shocked me was the colossal scale and tastelessness of the decor. It was shocking how megalomania had overtaken this person.”
House Fit for a Tyrant
Mail Online: House fit for a tyrant: Protestors storm the sprawling, luxury estate of Ukraine’s fugitive president which has its own private zoo, golf course and is half the size of Monaco
Mail Online has a series of images and videos. Here are a few images.
Many more pictures and videos on the site. It’s amazing there was no destruction or looting. Cheers and best wishes to the citizens of Ukraine.
Unfortunately, many problems linger. Election uncertainty and chants of “Russia, Russia” in Sevastopol could easily lead to further violence.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock