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Ukrainian Opposition Leaders Sign Political Settlement; Interview with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski; Ukraine's Economy in Free Fall

Aired February 21, 2014 - 15:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: And live from Kiev, I'm Becky Anderson. You're watching a special edition of Connect the World. This is the scene this hour in Maidan after what has been the bloodiest week since Ukraine became independent. But this Friday, a deal was struck to end the bloodshed. The crucial question now, will it hold?

Well, after days of deadly violence, a landmark breakthrough in Ukraine. Protesters as we speak are still out in Kiev's Independence Square tonight. It is a very emotional atmosphere as many are still grieving the dozens of lives lost over the past few days.

Now opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko addressed the crowd a short time ago hours after he and other protest leaders reached an agreement with the government for sweeping political change.

Well, among other things, the deal signed with President Viktor Yanukovych calls for early election, a national unity government and constitutional reform.

The European Union helped mediate, or facilitate that deal. EU policy chief Catherine Ashton says what happens next is critical.


CATHERINE ASHTON, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: Now what has to happen is that the implementation of that begins with the withdrawal of any threat of violence. And that means anyone threatening violence.


ANDERSON: Well, parliament moved quickly to implement key parts of that deal, including limiting the president's power. It also passed legislation that could lead to the release of the jailed opposition leader and former prime minister here Yulia Tymoshenko.

Well, let's bring in Nick Paton Walsh, our senior international correspondent on this who has been on this story covering the developments and fast moving developments, of course, Nick. Just how significant is this deal?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could potentially bring this standstill to an end or it could (inaudible) in another cycle of trouble violence.

What is remarkable to note is when Klitschko took the stage there was effectively jeering from many of the crowd members. We can't straw poll everybody, but it wasn't a heroes welcome at all.

So the concern now is we have a tight deadline ahead of us for them starting to vacate public spaces. Will they adhere to that?

We went down amongst the crowds just earlier on to see how few police are there really to be seen. And just how somber the atmosphere is.


WALSH: Fireworks of victory where hours before they'd have been fired in rage, a hole where the riot police had been.

Well, 24 hours ago this street was the scene of pitched live gunfire battles between police and protesters. Now absolutely no police around. They're abandoned this position of theirs two hours ago. Just protesters to be seen. Empty streets. You can even catch a taxi.

A remarkable turnaround. The protesters now the power here. In the morning, a deal emerged between the president and the opposition that would weaken Yanukovych's powers and call early elections.

But the crowd here, scattered, angry at the dozens of dead weren't convinced. It took blunt talk from European diplomats to see it through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't support this, you will have martial law, the army, you'll all be dead.

WALSH: Then it was signed.

Within minutes, parliament here deserted by police, voted to reduce the president's powers. Then they sacked the interior minister.

The MPs, driven around in cars that remind you power means money here, now have 10 days to appoint a new cabinet.

Look, though, at what happens when protesters meet the president's people.

Under the deal, President Yanukovych is less powerful, but still president until early elections by December.

This old man screams we need to kill you.

"That decision to return to the old constitution," he said, "cost the lives of 100 people. It makes no sense."

And under the deal, the protesters mourning the dead behind their biggest barricades yet must disarm by Saturday night and begin clearing the area by Sunday.

That's not about to happen any time fast. This isn't over yet.


WALSH: Now the real thing from that piece to bear in mind is you're outside parliament. There are no police, but there are angry protesters who are basically shouting at politicians as they come out, airing their grievances. One old man hitting another politician with his briefcase.

There's anger here. It's not going away. And there's deadlines ahead.

ANDERSON: Nick, let's just take a look at exactly what is in this agreement, for your sake, viewers. The first order of business was for the Ukrainian parliament to pass a law restoring the constitution of 2004, which limits, of course, the power of the president. The signatories must also work to form a national unity government in the next 10 days. Crucially, the deal states that president -- presidential elections should be held no later than December. That's been one of the main demands of the opposition. The authorities will not impose a state of emergency on condition that both sides refrain from further use of violence. And an investigation will be launched into the recent violence under join monitoring from the Ukrainian authorities, opposition and the council of Europe.

Nick, where is President Yanukovych? And what happens to him next?

WALSH: Well, we haven't seen him really at all until just now televised pictures showing him at the signing of this deal. He's been noticeably absent.

The question, really, is does this buy him time. Is he going to be able to use the next nine months of still being president, a weakened president with a strong parliament who has just sacked his interior minister. He's not president like he used to be. Is he going to use that period of time to reestablish control, to perhaps I'm sure many protesters concerned, go after them, prosecute them maybe, reestablish control and then get through the elections in December and remain in control here?

Or, is this the erosion of his control? We've seen the army chief two days ago be replaced. The mayor of Kiev yesterday. We have to worry about what his inner circle are thinking at this time.

ANDERSON: Let's look at the wider picture here. Three foreign ministers from the European Union facilitating this deal, witnessed, as far as the U.S. at least is concerned, witnessed, not facilitated, by Russia. Where does Russia stand in all of this? Is this a future Ukraine turning its back on Russia?

WALSH: It's impossible for Ukraine to fully turn its back, because it is so close to Russia. So much of its east is umbilically linked to it. But they have seen Putin noticeably absent during this. He's not made a grand statement about this. I mean, signals suggesting that their policy is not to be intervening in Ukraine.

ANDERSON: Are you surprised by that.

WALSH: Well, I think we should be surprised by it. Bear in mind, he's in the middle of his Sochi games, big international showcase for Russia and his administration. He doesn't want to make a fuss. But it's odd that they seemed to have, since the shooting here, certainly not made more of an issue. The human rights (inaudible), not a big player. So...

ANDERSON: Nick, our viewers will be able to hear what's going on behind us just in Independence Square, just explain.

WALSH: Well, we've been seeing in the past a couple of hours of extraordinarily somber atmosphere, coffin brought out. You can hear that, that is like the masses prayers being said for the dozens of dead of the past 48 hours.

You would expect after a deal like this -- and there was after 2004 deal that ushered in eventually the Yushchenko administration, celebration, people standing around and extolling the virtues of their leaders. We've seen them jeered. We're seeing mourning of the dead. And we are also hearing some people in the crowd taking to the stage saying if he's not gone by tomorrow morning, are we going to do something?

ANDERSON: And that is exactly what I put to the Polish foreign minister who was very much part of these overnight discussions and negotiations. And I want you to get a sense of that.

But let me just give you just a sense of what we are hearing down here. Let me get the microphone out here.


ANDERSON: There are thousands of protesters. Nick, thank you very much indeed.

There are thousands of protesters, as Nick suggested, still in the square.

And as you saw in Nick's report, the foreign minister of Poland was one of the European officials, as I said, overnight in negotiations to get this deal done. And he had to use some pretty clear warnings to convince the protest leaders to sign onto the deal.

I spoke to Mr. Sikorski a little earlier in an exclusive interview with CNN. And I asked him about his comments and whether they helped steer the parties to agree. Have a listen to this.


RADOSLAW SIKORSKI, POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER: I did engage with the protesters to convince them of the seriousness of the situation. And my assessment at the time was that if the deal is refused by the opposition, the president has significant forces at his disposal, for example the interior ministry troops, and might use them. And that would mean a serious further loss of life.

But I'm very glad that I persuaded some of those people from the council of the Maidan and an hour later they voted 34 to 2 to accept the agreement. And I'm counting on opposition politicians now to convince the protesters in the Maidan that they've won, that they have good deal.

ANDERSON: Your message to protesters tonight, leave the square, go home?

SIKORSKI: Take the victory you have achieved and use it to honor those who so tragically lost their lives and give this agreement a chance, because it enables the creation of a government that can take Ukraine out of the deep crisis the country is in and can put Ukraine on the path of reform and back on the track of European integration.

ANDERSON: In the past hour, protesters behind me in the square have been demanding that President Yanukovych resign. They say they will attack if he hasn't gone by 10:00 am local time tomorrow. What is his mindset? You spent most of last night with him. Will he try to hang on at this point?

SIKORSKI: Well, no politician likes to shorten his term of office and to have his powers reduced. So, it's a significant concession from him. And I'm going to stick to the sixth point of the agreement and call on all Ukrainians to show restraint and to refrain from acts of violence, which are not wise against people who have weapons and have shown tragically, cruelly, their ability and willingness to use them.

In every negotiation to end either a civil war or this kind of crisis, where you have deal there will be those who think that the deal is not good enough.

I would advise all those people to read the agreement. And to...


ANDERSON: Did you at any time -- sir, did you at any time have facilitators try to convince him to resign?

SIKORSKI: No, not to resign. He has shortened his term of office. And of course that means it's a compromise. Compromise means that nobody gets 100 percent of what they want.

ANDERSON: What's the message here to Russia? What sort of role did they play?

SIKORSKI: Russia's role in Ukraine is a sort of controversy. But I have to say that President Putin's personal representative in Kiev played a constructive role. Ambassador (inaudible) actually helped in the negotiations at a couple of critical junctures. And initialed the agreement as a fair one.

I -- it's regrettable that Russia didn't decide to sign it, because as a neighbor of Ukraine, just like Poland, she could be a witness to an important settlement.


ANDERSON: That was the polish foreign minister speaking to me just before we went to air.

We're here live in Kiev on what has been an historic day. A street level view of the protest epicenter in Kiev is coming up. We're going to show you around Independence Square after the breakthrough agreement was reached.

And while the long-term political impact of the protest is far from clear, Ukraine could also be in for an economic shock. We're going to speak to CNN's Business Reporter on what is a very crucial story for this country.

You are watching a special edition of Connect the World live from Kiev. I'm Becky Anderson. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome back.

I'm in Kiev for you tonight.

Months of anti-government protests have led to an agreement that promises sweeping political reform in Ukraine.

I want to remind you now exactly how we got to this point. It all began with outrage over a scrapped trade deal. Remember that? But quickly grew into something much bigger.

We must warn you, that you may find some of the images in this next report disturbing.


ANDERSON: These horrific scenes on the streets of one of Europe's capitals are the culmination of over three months of protest. This deadly political crisis was sparked in November when the country's president rejected an historic trade and political deal with the EU, designed to lay the groundwork to eventual accession.

Instead, Yanukovych turned to Russia, agreeing to a $15 billion bailout with President Putin.

Thousands took to the streets to protest their president's shift to the east.

In January, their rage was galvanized by the introduction of anti- protest laws.

At least two people were killed in clashes. The police were condemned for their brutality.

The government accused the protesters of being radicals, occupying government buildings and terrorists seeking a coup.

In a hastily negotiated deal with the main opposition parties, the prime minister and his cabinet resigned and the controversial legislation was redacted.

But despite these concessions, the protesters weren't appeased.

And this week, a truce crumbles, leading to dozens killed as Kiev witnessed its worst violence yet.


ANDERSON: Well, what a difference 24 hours makes. The scene in Independence Square now is far more peaceful. As Nick Paton Walsh was pointing out, though, it is tense. But it's more peaceful than it was in previous days when it resembled -- well, quite frankly, a war zone.

I had the chance earlier to walk around what is ground zero of the anti-government protests.


ANDERSON: This is the north corner of Independence Square only 24 hours or so after what many say was the bloodiest day in modern Ukrainian history.

Now the protest camp is below me, down there in the square. And what divides the demonstrators from authorities -- and there is no sign of them, that's got to be said -- are these barricades. It's quite extraordinary feat. It actually is incredibly peaceful, as we talk now at around 4:00 Friday time.

Just have a look over here. The crowd is really, really diverse and actually very well organized. People are clearing up. It was a horrendous day on Thursday. People now cleaning up. You can see youngsters, you can see women, you can see men in balaclavas and full riot gear. But as I say a very, very diverse crowd.

We've just come around the back of that barricade. I want you to see this. On top of these tires, flowers have been left as a tribute to those who lost their lives.

It was just behind here on Thursday that CNN witnessed the deadly violence, people lost their lives. They were brought over to what is a triage center here at the Hotel Ukraine. Sadly, a center that became a makeshift morgue.

Sir, take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patient was died here...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than 25. More than 25 dead.

ANDERSON: These guys say that more than 25 bodies were here. He died, they say, as a result of bullet wounds, they say from the military.

And you can see that the stretchers are still here. There are medics around in anticipation of any further trouble.

At this stage, things as I say relatively peaceful. Let's hope it continues.


ANDERSON: And they remain so at this hour.

It is, what, quarter past -- 20 past 10:00 local time here. But the square is full. And they are still listening to opposition leaders on the stage and members of the religious communities here.

You're watching Connect The World live from Kiev. Coming up, adding to the uncertainty, Ukraine's economy, well, it's in nose dive. And the country has major debt to repay. We'll speak to CNN's Maggie Lake on that up next.


ANDERSON: Well, you're watching a special edition of Connect the World live this evening from Kiev with me, Becky Anderson. A reminder of today's main developments in Ukraine.

President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders have agreed to a deal aimed at ending the recent deadly violence. The agreement will see early elections and a reduction in the president's powers. It will also see the release of the jailed opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Her daughter Eugenia is now on the line, I believe, with us and ready to speak.

Eugenia, firstly, your reaction to what has been the fast moving and historic event.

EUGENIA TYMOSHENKO, DAUGHER OF YULIA TYMOSHENKO: Well, of course, today the constitutional majority voted on many very crucial laws. Of course first of all to ceasefire, change of constitution, to assist those - - the relatives of those who have died as heroes of Ukraine. And they also voted for the criminalization of the articles of which my mother was illegally sentenced.

So this shows, of course, a great support, the constitutional majority supported her release. And of course we need to go for a certain procedure now so her freedom is not yet decided. So it should be first voted by speaker, passed to Yanukovych for signature and then the court who sentenced her needs to close her case depending on the law.

ANDERSON: All right.

Have you spoken to you mother?

TYMOSHENKO: I haven't spoken to her as she doesn't have any access to the phone since her incarceration. And I will see her on Monday and then she will of course react and then make statements about the last developments.

Of course, we have today, a day of mourning in Ukraine when hundreds were killed and today it may dawn, people gathered to mourn and to bury those heroes who died and demand further protest and resignation immediate resignation of Yanukovych.


Now I know that this line isn't very good, so we do very much appreciate your time. And I'm going to let you go. At this point I'm hearing fireworks just going off behind me here.

But a very somber mood this evening as Eugenia points out as there are tributes made to those who have fallen in what has been these dreadful events.

Even though we don't yet know the full impact of the political standoff, one thing is very clear, this crisis has hit Ukraine's economy very, very hard. Earlier today, Standard & Poors downgraded its credit rating for Ukraine. On top of that, the government has canceled plans to issue $2 billion in bonds that it had hoped would be bought up Russian investors.

Well, now without that infusion of cash coming from Moscow, the country is even more likely to slide towards economic disaster. And here's why, Ukraine has to repay as much as $13 billion in debt this year, 2014. And it's going to be much more difficult to repay that debt as the country's currency continues to nosedive in value.

Now a weaker currency, of course, makes it harder to Ukraine to pay its bills, including Russian gas imports. And that means more economic pain.

And that is a reality may Ukrainians here are very aware of. In the past couple of days, many Ukrainians rushed to ATM machines, for example, to pull out their savings from banks to protect themselves against further uncertainty.

Well, to help us understand the enormity of what is this economic crisis facing Ukraine I'm joined by CNN's business anchor Maggie Lake from New York.

And it really is a question, Maggie, at this point of who will simply pay the bills on behalf of the Ukrainian government even as late as, what, Wednesday this week it looked as if $2 billion worth of Russian money would be on its way. It's unclear whether that will still be forthcoming. I mean, we still don't know what the sweeteners are in any western deal or U.S. deal. What's the story here?


I mean, this is a situation that analysts have been telling us an economy in freefall. And you only need to look at those pictures of people rushing to get to the banks, panicking to get their money out of the banks. We cannot underscore enough what a destabilizing situation that is when you start to see those pictures -- some of those people on line don't even know why they're panicking. It's an incredibly hard situation to pull back from. We can only hope that this fragile deal does that.

But this is not an economy that all of the sudden went into freefall. This is an economy that has been struggling for the last two years, virtually no growth. Now, of course, we know the entire EuroZone has been struggling to come back.

But I think one of the really worrying situations, Becky, for the Ukrainian people is that the young people in particular feel that there is no hope. This is a highly skilled, highly educated workforce. And yet the young people are leaving in droves.

When you have that kind of flight of human -- human capital, it makes it very hard to grow the economy. And the wages are just so low that they don't see a future. So that is the economic backdrop you're facing. On top of that, of course, these very big bills coming through.

And I do want to tell you, I did call the IMF just a short time ago to ask them are they prepared to step in? Are you prepared to help Ukraine? The answer I got was no comment. The situation is so fluid they do not even comfortable saying that they are monitoring it. No comment is all they were willing to say.

ANDERSON: Yeah, that's interesting, Maggie, because earlier I spoke to the Polish foreign minister who has been instrumental, of course, in facilitating this deal. And we talked about the sort of economic incentives the Europeans might put forward at this stage.

Here is what he had to say.


SIKORSKI: Ukraine is in a dire situation, but at the same time Ukraine actually has an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, it has drawn on the second -- on the first tranche. And simply needs to start implementing the jointly agreed plan that would activate the second tranche, a very substantial second tranche.

In other words, Ukraine will get a lot of money as soon as it starts reforming its economy.


ANDERSON: Interesting, Maggie there saying pony up, because the country needs it. Maggie Lake in New York for us on the economic side of this story. It's a cliche, isn't it? But to coin a phrase, it's the -- all about the economy, stupid.

Well, the latest world news headlines are just ahead here on CNN. Plus, as crowds gather for another night in Kiev's Independence Square, we're going to have more on what at least people here and around the world hope is this historic deal in Ukraine.

And moments of fear and hope in Kiev: iReporters share their experiences when CONNECT THE WORLD continues. Do stay with us.


ANDERSON: You're back with us here on CNN watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, live from Kiev. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Welcome back. The top stories this hour.

There was a major breakthrough in Ukraine today, Friday. After days of escalating violence, the government and opposition leaders signed an agreement aimed at resolving the crisis. Now, thousands of people are in central Kiev tonight behind me in Independence Square.

The international community has welcomed this agreement, but CNN's Phil Black went out onto the streets just earlier to find out how Ukrainians feel about it, and this is what they had to say.



PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The crowd in Independence Square swelled with news of the deal, not a celebration, not an angry rejection, either.


BLACK: But on the barricades, an unwillingness to accept any deal that would allow President Viktor Yanukovych to remain in power until the end of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arrest Yanukovych.

BLACK: And an unwillingness to give up the fire-blackened square they've defiantly held for three months. These men say they'll stay to the end, but they're not sure what that is. This man says a change to the constitution is positive, but he still doesn't trust the president. Many here feel the same. The atmosphere, emotional.


BLACK: A mix of patriotism, uncertainty, and great sorrow for the many lives lost on neighboring streets only one day earlier.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel proud of Ukrainians because we just can - - we are able to struggle for our future, for our freedom. But now, I feel almost sadness, is my strongest feelings now.

BLACK: Viola says a friend of hers was killed in the protests.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This agreement is not replacement for life of my friend and for the lives of Ukrainian people.

BLACK (on camera): It's not enough.


BLACK (voice-over): Pavel says he helped to carry some of those who were shot Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about their resignation of the current president, incumbent?

BLACK (on camera): He remains the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's not a deal. As long as he's the president, the opposition will -- this movement will continue.

BLACK (voice-over): Alexei's view: there's little option but to hope this plan works.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not possible to work in this environment and then decide to do nothing. So basically, everything is stopped, and we're waiting for the state to resolve. And it's really exhausting.

BLACK (on camera): This agreement doesn't guarantee that a nation's hurt can be overcome or the bitter differences will be reconciled, or that these barricades will come down easily. As with more compromises at the end of a hard-fought dispute, for Ukraine, it is likely there are still great difficulties ahead.

Phil Black, CNN, Kiev.


ANDERSON: Well, how are anti-government demonstrators reacting to today's deal? Will it be enough to get them off the streets? For more, I'm joined, now, by a protesters who'd rather we didn't use his name this evening. So, you've just come up from the square. You've been here, effectively, since November. Tell me, how do you feel about this deal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly speaking, now, we are not quite satisfied with the result of the agreement with Yanukovych. We don't want any agreement with Yanukovych. Only one thing that we need, what we want, it's resignation. Absolutely resignation without any alternatives.

ANDERSON: Well, he's not going to go. He says he's not going to go. The EU, Polish foreign minister told us today on CNN they didn't even ask him to go. They say it's his position. So, what happens next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As our leader told this night and we absolutely agree with them, if resignation won't come tomorrow morning at 10:00, our friends will start fighting again.

ANDERSON: You're going to talk -- you're talking about attacking once again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely. We should have a good -- absolutely good result with our future, only will be without Yanukovych.

ANDERSON: Do you think your views reflect the majority of those who've been protesting this government, this president, over the last three months? You've been down here running sort of kitchens down here, you've got almost businesses down here. You talk to people all day every day, and you have done for 13 weeks. Are you convinced that your views reflect the majority of people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. People want to change criminal government in Ukraine. It seems that our future only without him.

ANDERSON: Why not give this a chance? Twenty-four hours to give up your weapons, twenty-four -- forty-eight to clear the square. Ten days a unity government and presidential elections by the end of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have already given a lot of chance for this criminal government and for Yanukovych.

ANDERSON: You don't trust it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not. Absolutely --

ANDERSON: You think Tymoshenko should be released from jail? That's another concession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably, but good news. We'll see. We'll see. Now, we are -- we feel power of the people and we trust for each other. And our friends died for a good future. So we should -- to finalize this job for them and for us. And now, we will be -- we will be satisfied only with resignation.

ANDERSON: That's a very, very depressing picture that you are painting. As we talk, again, still tributes being paid to those who have lost their lives here. No chance of giving this a chance? That's what you're saying tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly speaking, it's a very difficult question for us. We are ready to pay this price for our future, actually speaking.

ANDERSON: We wish you the best of luck. Thank you for joining us.


ANDERSON: We've just -- two there. There you go, the views of one of the protesters who's spent some 13 weeks of his life down here in Independence Square.

Many people here tonight saying this deal that's been struck, mediated by the European Union, one assumes with tacit approval from the United States, witnessed by the Russians.

And we're told by the Polish foreign minister exclusively on CNN tonight that the efforts were constructive by the Russians, but at least one activist here with us tonight telling us that that simply is not enough. They want to see the end of the president, and he needs to go by 10:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Well, in other world news, there is ongoing unrest in Venezuela. Clashes have taken place in parts of the capital and in the country's west. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has caused for peaceful anti-government marches tomorrow, Saturday.

Well, President Maduro has accused his opponents of promoting violence. CNN was revoked or denied press credentials for -- sorry, the country has for CNN journalists. But a CNN team has been invited to attend Mr. Maduro's news conference in about two hours' time, and of course, as we get more news from that, we will bring it to you here, as you would expect on CNN.

Well, the demonstrators on the streets of Caracas agree that they want the government to reduce crime and curb inflation, but the protest groups disagree strongly over what tactics to use to achieve those aims. CNN's Karl Penhaul explains.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protesters carry daisies as a sign of peace. Yet over the last two weeks, anti-government demos have turned deadly.

KEVIN LOPEZ, STUDENT PROTESTER: We need help. That is the most important, that we need in this moment, we need hope.

PENHAUL: On lamp posts, stencils of fellow opposition students killed in clashes with pro-government supporters a week ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the guys, the fallen, from the 12th of February in the center of Caracas in La Candelaria. You know the policeman shoot these guys.

PENHAUL: Venezuela's socialist president Nicolas Maduro accuses opposition protesters of starting the violence and calls the fascists.

FRANCIS LOPEZ, OPPOSITION PROTESTER: I don't like Hugo Chavez, I did not like him, but I like Maduro worse. I mean, I don't like him at all. I think he has -- he's following Cuba.

PENHAUL: A call for silence in memory of the dead.

PENHAUL (on camera): The students have traced out on the ground "SOS," the international distress sign, "Save Our Souls." They say that the crime wave is killing them. They say that inflation is bleeding cash from their pockets, and they say that food shortages are starving them.

PENHAUL (voice-over): But the government argues it's right-wing businessmen who are strangling the economy in a bid to bring Venezuela to its political knees.

Thursday's demo in a middle-class Caracas neighborhood was small. Students briefly blocked a street. "We have to protest like this in the street. We've had enough of the government beating us up every day," he says. But there's a disagreement over tactics.

PENHAUL (on camera): What's going on here is just another example of one of the problems that is facing the opposition, and that is internal division. Some of the students say that it's important to have blocked main streets.

PENHAUL (voice-over): Others say the only solution is peaceful dialogue. What seems certain is that if opposition groups can't forge a untied front, they stand little chance of forcing the government to talk, let alone resign.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Caracas.


ANDERSON: Well, US president Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama today, in spite of a warning from the Chinese government. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader visited Mr. Obama at the White House for about an hour, the meeting seen by many as a show of Mr. Obama's concern over China's human rights practices. Well, China had warned that the visit would, and I quote, "seriously damage ties between Beijing and Washington."

Well, armed attackers blew a hole in the gate of the presidential palace in the Somali capital of Mogadishu earlier. The initial blast was followed by a fierce gun battle inside the compound. The national security minister said at least 12 people were killed, including two government officials and seven attackers. The al Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for that attack.

And a Libyan military aircraft has crashed in Tunisia, killing all 11 people onboard. The Libyan Air Force says a deputy minister was among the victims. An official says it appears one of the engines caught fire. The plane went down around 60 kilometers from Tunis.

We're going to take a very short break here on CNN. We'll be back from Kiev for you after this.


ANDERSON: All right, you're with CONNECT THE WORLD, live from Kiev tonight, with me, Becky Anderson. Throughout the past week, we've seen what are some amazing and disturbing pictures coming out of Kiev and other cities across this country. Images like these.

They've helped keep the international attention on this story and have been critical in shaping the narrative coming out of Ukraine, and some critics would argue that pictures like these give us a rather narrow perspective about the feelings of the Ukrainians as a whole.

To address that issue, I'm joined now by the photographer who captured these scenes, Maxim Eristavi. He's an independent journalist here in Kiev. It's been the most extraordinary time.

MAXIM ERISTAVI, INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST: Yes, of course. And it's just shocking the way this country changed just for these two months, it's really unexpected, even for locals.

And those scenes of violence and especially that massacre that we saw yesterday, that's the first time locals see anything like this in their lives. It's the most violent period for this country, I think, since its process, to say that, since World War II.

ANDERSON: Yes. Very unexpected, as far as you're concerned?

ERISTAVI: Yes. And even for me, I'm a journalist, I'm not a war journalist, and I -- I never expected that here in traditionally very peaceful Ukraine I would see scenes like this, war-like scenes.

ANDERSON: Let me just ask you about your emotions as you shot what is, as our viewers will see, some incredibly disturbing images. Like you say, you're a local, you're not a war journalist. Just walk me through how you felt.

ERISTAVI: I think I'm lucky because I could compose myself and to do first job of reporting things, and then to process. But after work, when you're coming back home or you're trying to process this, this is really shocking, because you're living your normal life.

It's not a third world country. Nothing like that is happening all the time. And you're living your normal life, and after one morning or one night, it's boom! Completely changed, and you don't know what will happen to you.

ANDERSON: And you make a very good point. As I was coming in today, outside of the square, things are sort of working relatively normally. This is a city which is modern shops, very sophisticated. And yet, you come into here, and you see these signs of devastation and a war zone. How do you feel about the future at this point tonight, Friday?

ERISTAVI: As you can see, people are very angry and not very satisfied about this deal reached today. But what do you expect from the front line? People are more radical at the front line. But I'm pretty sure that a lot of people sitting there in provinces, they're quite scared of what's going on.

And maybe they want President Yanukovych to go, and those responsible for the massacre punished. But they partially are relieved that some kind of a deal is reached.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us this evening.


ANDERSON: We really do appreciate your time. Ukrainians have witnessed the events at Independence Square firsthand and are telling CNN about their experiences, detailing both their fears of violence and their hopes for the future. Two iReporters shared their stories and images with us today. Have a listen.


KYRYLO KOROL, CNN IREPORTER: I went to the -- actually to Maidan, to Independence Square. So, I took that picture with Independence Monument. And I think protesters were throwing fireworks into special forces, if you can see the sparks. Three months ago, they just went there for a walk, and now it's the center of a revolution.

MAIA MIKHALUK, CNN IREPORTER: I don't think this is the end of this revolution. Whatever agreements are reached today in our parliament, it's just not enough. Maybe a week ago this would have been enough. After the president shed the blood of so many people, people want him out of office, but even that won't be enough. People want him to be held responsible.

Yesterday, was just a nightmare, people being killed and injured. Today is like a celebration. Everybody's bringing food and serving each other. I was there the day before yesterday, and the tires were burning, there was so much trash. And today in that same place, it's clear, it's clean, the ground is clean, it's scrubbed. Everybody's doing their part to clean the city, so it's amazing.


ANDERSON: Doing our best to get you a real sense of just how people feel here in Kiev. Are you in Ukraine? Have you been an eyewitness? And if so, we do want to hear from you. You can contribute your images, your videos, and your stories, of course, through CNN's iReport.

And you can also find us at Facebook,, have your say. You can, of course, as ever, tweet me @BeckyCNN. That is @BeckyCNN.

Coming up after this short break on the show this evening, the violence has ceased and a peace deal has been signed. But what really lies ahead for a country wounded, possibly mortally, as some people say, by this crisis? That after this.





ANDERSON: You're watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD live from Kiev in Ukraine this evening. It's been an amazingly fast-moving day here, starting out with what seemed like an unbreakable standoff and ending with what is, in many ways, a major breakthrough.

We've already seen the Ukrainian constitution changed today, and there's talk of a coalition government being formed next week. And don't forget that all-important call for early elections by December.

So, what does happen next? Let's bring back our senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh for a final chat. Nick, let's talk about the future, because what looks like a war zone down in the square below us could be cleared, things could improve, although many people here say they are very dissatisfied with what's going on.

But this surely will remain a battleground for other people's competing interest. I'm talking about this proxy war that Ukraine is stuck in.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly, we haven't heard much from the Russians and we haven't heard much from the Americans, actually. We know that Barack Obama is speaking to Putin later on today, we'll maybe hear what they have to say.

But this is very different from 2004, where it was so openly a kind of US-Russia tug-of-war, between the Bush administration and early Putinism. This is so much more about a decade of lost opportunity.

The anger down on this street, the reason why there's so much debris and so many formed barricade, is because people haven't had the promises they were made in 2004 go anywhere. They still feel stuck between the two, and no developments happening in the west, like you've seen in Poland, across the border.

ANDERSON: So, you see the opportunity for Ukrainians taking some ownership for their own economy and politics going forward? You're optimistic at this point?

WALSH: We haven't really seen the Russians fully come into play at this point. They're not going to want to lose Ukraine, they do consider it part of their sort of satellite states around them. So we may, perhaps, after this deal begins to falter or Yanukovych reemerges back into force, comes back into play, that could drag this out further.

ANDERSON: Take me back to 2004, because that is, effectively, what this deal is all about, taking us back to the sort of euphoria of that Orange Revolution a decade ago. Your sense of, really, how things have changed.

WALSH: Well, this is disastrous. 2004 was a cappuccino revolution. There were housewives and kids in the square, it was totally peaceful, everybody simply standing there with this feeling in their heart they wanted to improve their country.

There was a tug-of-war with the East, certainly the East wasn't happy about its industry being taken away from Russia, but there was a feeling it was kind of -- there was a good-natured atmosphere.

I came back here, and people are angry, they're dug-in, there were barricades, men willing to fight their ground. Very different.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, there are still threats that if Yanukovych, the president, doesn't resign by 10:00 AM tomorrow -- and there's no sign that he will -- that this will all go off again. Do you think that might happen?

WALSH: It's very possible. The police aren't anywhere to be seen. You've got to wonder what they're thinking, what they're doing. Are they simply going home and staying out of the game? That's unlikely.

ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh with me here in Kiev. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, a very good evening from Kiev.