Ukraine crisis continued - violence approaching?
Following this and this...
3pm: Ukranian special police will defend the people if Russian troops attack, while Russia refuses to confirm or deny its troops' presence.
3:20pm: Another new site in support of Ukranian democracy (sorry - link corrected - should have pointed to the Ukranian Democracy site), plus more blogs weigh in:
Chrenkoff notes that the "Western European political class has done preciously little to help Eastern and Central Europe liberate itself in 1989/2001 (not to mention stop the war in its own Balkan backyard) - so why start now?"
Johann Norberg wonders "Where are the concerned European politicians who should condemn the fraud, and who could be with these crowds to show their support? And where are the "human shields"? A lot of young westerners were willing to risk their lives to stop the war on Iraq. Aren’t they willing to risk some discomfort to stop one of Europe’s biggest countries from slipping back to dictatorship?"
The Argus has a few bits and pieces.
LoboWalk finds some pictures of Yanukovich supporters and troops - the first I've seen. The fact that we've heard little from the other half of the population has been worrying me...
3:40pm: Oh joy, from Victor "According to korrespondent.net, ex-president of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of military crimes and genicide, greeted the Prime Minister of Ukraine Yanukovich on the 'victory in the elections'."
In more welcome support, President Kwasniewski of Poland - the birthplace of the Solidarity movement - is flying to Kiev to act as the EU's intermediary in talks, according to Bloomberg.
Disaster could yet be averted.
3:50pm: ten minutes from the reported time that the troops could move in...
Instapundit is providing a few more links, including to SueAndNotU, apparently an official election observer, who notes:
"the denizens of flashy cosmopolitan Kyiv may not be seen as representative of the demos writ large. On the other hand, we're talking about an enormous gathering, and sympathetic demonstrations in major cities across the country. The military's a wild card, they're armed to the teeth, and with an outgoing president, a president who supposedly won the election, and a president with rallying hordes that has taken the oath of office, they don't know who to take orders from. Chaos is not unimaginable."
4pm: Is it about to erupt?
Yushchenko calls on soldiers and militia to defend Ukrainian people:
"Thousands of people in epaulets, dozens of army units and organs of the Interior Ministry have already given their word. They’re all with the Ukrainian people. On the side of the people – the place of every honest person...
"The criminals want to send you to the barricades. There won’t be found there the sons of those who are pushing you into bloodshed. They’re running away. But we’re staying with you, we’re building a new Ukraine. The country needs your honesty, your experience, and your professionalism...
"You’re obliged in any case not to allow foreign armed forces onto Ukrainian territory...
"I appeal to all to whom the people have entrusted weapons – stand up for the defense of the country... The time has come to defend our relatives, our brothers and sisters, our children"
Plus, "Once Central Elections Commetee announces Yanukovych as a President -gangs, masked as Yushchenko supporters will start provocations on Maidan(Independance Square). After that emergency measures might be taken by authorities. Yanukovych headquarters has food which is enough till tommorow morning. No-one is alowed to step out of headquarters."
And students are being forced to take part in rallies in favour of Yanukovych.
The Ukranian Marines have declared for Yushchenko.
4:10pm: The Central Elections Committee is under immense pressure from all sides - whatever they announce, it could spark off violent protests... Apparently it was delayed by two hours as the agenda wasn't ready. So expect things to kick off c.6pm UK time now, as an announcement is expected from this meeting...
4:30pm: The Argus has some great pictures of riot police in the snow, with protestors putting flowers in their shields and on the barricades...
4:35pm: The Belmont Club has a round-up and a discussion of the implications going on in its comments section.
4:45pm: Discoshamen of Le Sabot Post-Moderne, now blogging from inside the maidan news agency, has worrying reports of violence breaking out:
"- Authorities have begun violent action against peaceful protesters near the Presidential Admin building. 2 buses of special ops police units drove up and have moved on the demonstrators.
- The tent city has now reached as far as the Central Department Store on Kreshatik Street.
- The pro-Yanukovych tent city seems to be bleeding people at a quick rate. They either can't take the cold, or the heat. :)
- Provocateurs planted an "explosive" device in our tent city. Snipers were called in.
- There are reports of tanks approaching the city. This is still unconfirmed, and I'm skeptical about this one."
4:50pm: obdymok has an eyewitness report:
"just saw thousands of berkut police from kharkhiv and donetsk, as well as thousands of coal miners, start walking in down lesi ukrainky blvd. in the direction of the central election headquarters.
lesi ukraini leads to bessarabsky rynok and the start of khreshchatyk, which is filled with about 100,000 yushchenko supporters.
i think a riot is imminent."
4:55pm: The BBC's ticker-tape is confirming Fistful's report from 4:30 that the Election Committee has declared Yanukovych the winner. I'd laid off posting that until I had confirmation - this could explain the reports in the last couple of updates...
5:00pm: Victor :
11 members of the Comission voted for this decision.
"the Supreme Court has refused to consider Yushchenko's plea about the falsification of the preliminary results of the elections.
"in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, people are being arrested for supporting Yushchenko... This is what is awaiting Ukrainian people, too. This is coming. All legal ways of resolving the situation have been exhausted.
"I just wonder how these bastards are going to run a country where all the people is so strongly against them? It's ridiculous."
The pro-Yushchenko demonstrators are marching on the Election Committee's headquarters... This is not good.
5:05pm: Maidan fears Civil War. All Kiev hospitals are on emergency footing.
It looks like it's only a matter of time now.
5:25pm: The Periscope has a round-up / update.
Neeka's back, with a report of the Election Committee's meeting:
"It could not be more humiliating. At some point, someone from the opposition complained that one of the pro-Yanukovych thugs hit someone from the opposition "between the legs."
The results are the following:
30,511,289 people took part in the election
488,022 of the bulletins were cancelled
15,093,691 (49.46%) people voted for Yanukovych
14,222,289 (46.61%) people voted for Yushchenko
707,284 (2.31%) people voted against both candidates
Yanukovych supporters got up and began applauding when the commission signed the final protocol. They were also shouting: Yanukovych! Yanukovych! Yanukovych! None of their faces except one were recognizable to me: Grigoriy Surkis, president of Dynamo Kyiv football team, was the only one I know. They were also waving those blue flags of Yanukovych campaign.
They discussed a few other issues but I wasn't listening. The opposition was protesting loudly from their corner but the commission members went on with their business, ignoring the protests.
At the very end, the opposition AND some journalists were shouting very loudly: Hanba! (Shame!) and Yushchenko!
And that was it."
6:40pm update: US Secretary of State Colin Powell has rejected the election results.
Bloomberg summarises the international implications of the US/Eu vs. Russia divisions over these elections.
Victor continues to report at The Periscope: "obozrevatel.com has published an audiorecording of phone talks of Yanukovich headquarters. The recording witnesses that Yanukovich headquarters totally controlled the the elections and vote count on both rounds. Absentee abllots, closed polls, voting at home, etc. Yanukovych team consistently achieved the necessary results. They knew the exact number of absentee ballots, off-the-poll votes, and other manipulations were compared to the results of the exit polls, thus they could plan a comparatively precise result in advance."
6:55pm: obdymok revises his earlier take - things may be calming down:
"always hate to get it wrong, but the drama of the central election commission (cec) session and the sight of the goons, thousands of them, walking towards the cec shocked me. that's what i thought, at least, when i watched the file by from my window on the 5th floor. perspective changed when i got a chance to get there and talk with them... ivan tavhen, an out-of-work 42-year old father of two from makieevka, donetsk oblast, said he was told it was a one day trip... "i'm not infatuated by yushchenko and can use an extra hr. 200," he said. they are going back to their buses now."
7:24pm: Sod it - might as well plug this... If you've liked my coverage, please consider voting for this blog in the BOBs, where it has been nominated as "Best Journalistic Blog (English). Thanks!
Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe ponders what next for Yushchenko.
7:50pm: The UK's Channel 4 News has live footage of bands playing in central Kiev - a party atmosphere. But just around the corner are a mass of police - the loyalties of which are unclear. Channel 4 News is also reporting that Yanukovych is calling for unity and talks. TulipGirl summarises the other new developments.
8:30pm: Continued here.