Protests against the government in Ukraine have been ongoing for months, including several clashes with police dispersing the crowds.
Ukraine's parliament on Feb. 22 voted to dismiss controversial president Viktor Yanukovych after he fled the capital city of Kiev. The parliament scheduled an election to replace him for May 25. On Feb. 25, it voted to have Yanukovych tried at the International Criminal Court. Domestically, he is wanted by police for "mass murder."
"I intend to continue to struggle for the future of Ukraine, against terror and fear. What's going on now is lawlessness, lack of authority, and terror… These are people who advocate violence — the Ukrainian parliament is illegitimate." Viktor Yanukovych, ousted Ukrainian president
President Yanukovych and opposition representatives signed a deal on Feb. 21 to end the country's crisis. The deal included early presidential elections along with constitutional reforms. Opposition members agreed to clear protest camps, while the government said bloodshed would be investigated and promised not to declare a state of emergency.
Protests in Ukraine began Nov. 21, 2013, sparked by the government's decision to back out of a potential trade and political agreement with the EU in favor of a deal with Russia including $15 billion in loans and discounts on natural gas. Pro-Europe rallies widened to general disputes with the government.
The violence in the anti-government protests brought criticism from several countries and preparations of sanctions from the U.S. and EU. Russia -- which has close ties with the Ukrainian government and provides financial support -- maintains the troubles are an internal Ukrainian affair.
Russian Internet censorship agency Roskomnadzor on March 3 shut down 13 web pages related to the Ukraine protests on Russian social media website Vkontakte, saying the groups operating the pages were encouraging "terrorist activity." One of the groups whose page was shut down had 500,000 members.
The protests have attracted people from all ends of the political spectrum, though the opposition is mainly led by three figures: nationalist Svoboda Party leader Oleg Tyagnibok, Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform leader Vitali Klitschko and Fatherland leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Despite a truce reached on Feb. 19, police and protesters clashed on Feb. 20 at Maidan (Independence) Square in Kiev. At least 75 people have died, many from gunshot wounds, in three days of violence -- with Feb. 20 the deadliest day of the protests to date. Hundreds have been injured.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Feb. 26 that the U.S. was planning to offer Ukraine $1 billion in loans and would consider other direct assistance for the country. The U.S. aid would be part of a larger package involving Europe and international financial institutions.
Ukrainian opposition figure and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv Feb. 22. She then flew to the capital Kiev and addressed a crowd of thousands of cheering supporters in Independence Square, saying a "dictatorship has fallen."
The regional government in the major western Ukrainian city of Lviv, some 300 miles west of Kiev, declared political autonomy from the former Ukrainian government following a night of "active military action" and "open warfare" in the capital. Lviv is the capital of a region with 2.5 million people.
Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin on March 17 signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a sovereign state, Reuters reports. If Crimea and Russia sign a treaty, Russia's constitutional court and parliament would have to approve it for Crimea to join or ally with the Russian Federation. In the meantime, Russia's legislature will discuss Crimea's referendum vote.
If you don't have a Circa account yet, download and sign up using the free app for iPhone.