Yulia Tymoshenko proclaims that ‘the dictatorship has fallen’
By Patrick Vaillancourt, News Editor
After three months of on-again off-again protests, the Ukrainian parliament has voted to oust the government of now-former president Viktor Yanukovych.
The protests in the former Soviet republic began as Yanukovych planned to align the country closer to Russia, moving away from proposed agreements with the European Union.
The public was outraged by closer ties with Russia, believing that the implementation of agreements and a better relationship with the European Union would lead to greater prosperity and a better quality of life for the Ukrainian people.
Members of the Ukrainian Parliament voted for an early election, removing Yanukovych from presidency for “not fulfilling his obligations.” Yanukovych fled to the city of Kharkiv and addressed his people on television, stating that he would not resign.
The parliament also voted to release jailed former Ukrainian prime minister and symbolic opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko had been arrested in 2011 on corruption charges, which many believe were politically motivated manoeuvres to keep opposition groups in check.
Upon her release from the hospital where she was under guard, Tymoshenko declared that “the dictatorship has fallen.”
Tymoshenko addressed thousands of protesters in Kyiv’s Independence Square, urging them to keep protesting.
“You have no right to leave… Do not stop yet,” she told the crowd.
The parliamentary vote to remove Yanukovych from power was a rare step, but some believe it was an opportune time to declare the president constitutionally unable to lead the country.
The Ukrainian army stated its intent to be uninvolved with the political unrest, and the police force stated that it supported “the people” and “rapid change.” The opposition protesters have taken over much of the capital, Kyiv, including the presidential office and private residence.
Reports have also surfaced that much of Yanukovych’s inner circle and cabinet have fled or disappeared. Opposition leader, Vitali Klitschko, said that “Today, parliament is the only legitimate body of power.”
The European Union had taken part in negotiations and mediations between Yanukovych’s government and the opposition on February 21, after more than 70 protesters were killed by police snipers. The deal called for an early presidential election before the end of the year, which did not satisfy protesters who wanted Yanukovych out immediately.
Presidential elections have been scheduled for May 25, with some saying that Tymoshenko will be the next president.