Inside the Ukraine crisis

Protesters in Kiev react after the Ukrainian parliament Protesters in Kiev react after the Ukrainian parliament on Feb. 22, 2014, voted to dismiss President Viktor Yanukovych and to hold early elections, on May 25. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bulent Kilic

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THE CRISIS

The anti-government rallies in Kiev that forced Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the capital erupted in November.

The trigger was Yanukovych's rejecting the European Union's proposed trade pact and political alliance. He opted to collaborate with Russia, which for years has used its leverage as the Ukraine's natural gas supplier to extract political concessions.

Moscow's influence is strong in Ukraine's industrialized east, where many citizens speak Russian. The western region, however, sees Europe as a model.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin's bid to recreate the ex-Soviet Union's dominance hinges on a compliant Ukraine Europe's second-largest nation. Russia leases the Crimean headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet from the Ukraine.

Ten years ago, Yanukovych lost the presidency in the Orange Revolution led by pro-Western ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Imprisoned during Yanukovych's rule, she was freed from prison yesterday and plans to run for president.

A TIMELINE

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Nov. 21: Yanukovych says he will ally with Russia instead of the European Union. Peaceful protesters call for him to reverse course, accusing him of giving in to Putin. Riot police attack a crowd of protesters about a week later, but rallies draw hundreds of thousands who demand the president's resignation and early elections.

Dec. 1: Some 300,000 rally in Kiev's Independence Square. Protesters seize City Hall.

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Dec. 17: Yanukovych accepts Putin's $15 billion bailout.

Jan. 22: Three protesters are killed the first deaths. Six days later, Yanukovych forces his prime minister out and revokes his new anti-protest laws.

Feb. 16: All 234 demonstrators are released from jail and protesters quit City Hall. Two days later, Parliament delays reducing Yanukovych's constitutional powers. At least 26 people are killed in clashes, including 10 police officers and hundreds are injured.

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Friday: Europe helps to negotiate a truce with opposition leaders and Yanukovych, who will name a new government and hold early elections. Parliament slashes the president's powers. The death toll from the week stands at 101, according to protesters and Ukrainian authorities.

Yesterday: Protesters take control of Kiev. Parliament votes to remove Yanukovych from power and hold elections in May. Yanukovych flees to the east and refuses to step down.

-- AP

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