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Key events in Ukraine's political crisis


Key events in Ukraine's political crisis during the last three months:

Nov. 21: President Viktor Yanukovych's government announces it is abandoning an agreement that would strengthen ties with the European Union and instead seeks closer cooperation with Moscow. Protesters take to the streets.

Nov. 30: Images of protesters bloodied by police truncheons spread quickly and galvanize public support for the demonstrations.

Dec. 1: A protest attracts around 300,000 people on Kiev's Independence Square, known as the Maidan, the largest since the Orange Revolution in 2004. Activists seize Kiev City Hall.

Dec. 17: Russian President Vladimir Putin announces that Moscow will buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds and allow for a sharp cut in the price Ukrainians pay for Russian natural gas.

Jan. 22: Two protesters die after being hit with live ammunition and the third after a fall during a confrontation between police and demonstrators manning barricades, the first protest deaths.

Jan. 28: The prime minister resigns and parliament repeals the new harsh anti-protest laws that set off the violence of a week earlier. Both are concessions to the opposition aimed at defusing the crisis.

Jan. 31: Opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov, missing since Jan. 22, resurfaces badly bruised and with part of his right ear cut off. He believes a pro-Russia group was behind his kidnapping and torture, raising fears among the opposition that extrajudicial squads are being deployed to intimidate protesters.

Feb. 16: Opposition activists end their occupation of Kiev City Hall in exchange for the release of all 234 jailed protesters, in what is seen as a sign of progress toward resolving the crisis peacefully.

Feb. 18: Street clashes erupt, leaving scores dead and hundreds injured. The violence begins when protesters attack police lines and set fires outside parliament after it stalls on taking up a constitutional reform to limit presidential powers. Russia's offer the day before to resume payments under the bailout deal also feeds opposition suspicions that Yanukovych has made a deal with Moscow to stand firm against the protesters. Riot police respond to the violence by trying to push protesters off Independence Square.

Feb. 20: Hours after a truce is announced, violence resumes with government snipers shooting protesters from the roofs. Most of the 82 people who died in several days of violence were killed on that day.

Feb. 21: Under a European-mediated plan, protest leaders and Yanukovych agree to form a new government and hold an early election. Parliament slashes his powers and votes to free his rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, from prison. Yanukovych flees Kiev after protesters take control of the capital.

Feb. 22 Parliament votes to remove Yanukovych and hold new elections. Tymoshenko is freed from prison and speaks to tens of thousands who gather on the Maidan.

Feb. 23: Ukraine's parliament assigns presidential powers to its new speaker, Oleksandr Turchinov, an ally of Tymoshenko. The new authorities ask the West for loans to avoid an imminent default. Pro-Russia protesters start rallying against the new authorities in Crimea, where Russia has a major naval base.

Feb. 24: Ukraine's interim government draws up a warrant for the fugitive president's arrest in the killing of anti-government protesters. Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev derides the new leaders in Kiev as "Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks."

Feb. 25: Rallies in Crimea against "the bandits" in Kiev continue. A Russian lawmaker promises that Moscow will protect them.

Feb. 26: Leaders of Ukraine's protest movement propose top legislator Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's next prime minister. In Moscow, Putin orders major military exercises just across the border in a show of force and apparent displeasure over the country's new direction.

Feb. 27: Masked gunmen seize regional parliament and government buildings in Crimea. Ukraine's newly formed government pledges to prevent a national breakup with strong backing from the West. Yanukovych is granted refuge in Russia.

Feb. 28: Ukraine says Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its Crimea peninsula. In Kiev, Ukraine's parliament adopts a resolution demanding that Russia halt steps it says are aimed against Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Yanukovych makes his first public appearance, in southern Russia, since fleeing Ukraine. He says he was "forced" to do so and promises to "keep fighting for the future of Ukraine."


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