Ukraine's Southeast seeks to restore constitutional order, thousands gather in Kharkov
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Ukraine's Southeast seeks to restore constitutional order, thousands gather in Kharkov

RT/   | 22.02.2014.
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The public gathering of deputies from local councils of southeastern Ukraine have declared they are taking responsibility for constitutional order in the country, as thousands of people have assembled in the city of Kharkov.

“We, the local authorities of all levels, the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sevastopol region decided to take responsibility for ensuring the constitutional order and the rights of citizens on their territory,” their resolution said.

The Kharkov public gathering has announced a number of measures local authorities should take in response to the developments in Kiev. They should take full responsibility for all decision in respective regions with no regard to authorities in Kiev until the constitutional order in Ukraine is restored, a resolution of the gathering says.

They authorities should take measures to protect arms depots and prevent their take-over and looting by radical opposition activists.

The deputies have criticized the decision adopted by the Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) in the last few days, saying they are raising doubts about its legitimacy.

The gathering says the legislative acts may have been passed involuntary and are neither legitimate nor lawful.

The resent decisions of the national parliament were taken in conditions “of terror, threats of violence and death,” the resolution says.

Meanwhile, citizens are encouraged to form local militias to protect public order. Local authorities are to fund and support those militias.

Over 10, 000 people have gathered at the city’s Sport Palace, where a total of 3,477 deputies have been holding a meeting.


Still from RT video

Still from RT video

The situation remains generally quiet with the crowd being partly in good spirits and partly subdued and concerned, Itar-Tass news agency reports from the Palace.

“3, 477 deputies from local councils in southeastern Ukraine have gathered. We have gathered here not to separate the country, but to save it,”
 the regional governor, Mikhail Dobkin, told the crowd.

The head of the Kharkov administration, Gennady Kernes, has called the public gathering “an attempt by qualified deputies from the east of the country to stabilize the situation.”

"My colleagues and I have been personally threatened. But today we have gathered to change the situation,”
 he said. “We will not give in; we will fight till the end.”

The statement has been echoed by Rada’s Party of Regions deputy, Vadim Kolesnichenko, who also said that politicians are being threatened and “their families are basically hostages [of the situation].”

Russia sent several officials in the capacity of observers to the gathering, including Aleksey Pushkov, the head of Russian parliamentary commission on foreign affairs, Mikhail Markelov, Pushkov’s counterpart in the Council of Federation, the upper chamber of the parliament, and several governors from regions in eastern Russia.

“The decisions taken here are positive and concrete. What is important is that everything voiced here was implemented in the interests of the Ukrainian people and the entire Ukraine. What Ukraine needs now is common sense and a survival instinct,”
 said Evgeny Savchenko, Governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, commenting on the Kharkov gathering.

Meanwhile, parliament (Verkhovna Rada) is holding a new emergency session on Saturday. While the whereabouts of Ukrainian President Yanukovich remain uncertain, opposition leaders passed the law on the return to the 2004 Constitution without the president's signature.

They have also elected Aleksandr Turchinov the new head speaker of the Supreme Rada. He will be taking over the cabinet’s work until the formation of a coalition government.

Among new appointees is Arsen Avakov, who was named the acting head of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine.

With 233 voting in favor, the Ukrainian Rada has ruled to free the former PM Yulia Timoshenko from prison.

A day after Yanukovich agreed to opposition demands and signed an EU brokered deal, his residence in Kiev was abandoned and left virtually unguarded. Some media reports speculate that the president has left for Kharkov in the east of the country.

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