In view of the fast changing events, I have changed the title from "Power Vacuum in Ukraine - Regime Change?". The first part of the diary was written before this event.
The Ukrainian President has abandoned his offices and is reported to have left the capital Kyiv (Kiev). All police, including the riot police, have left the streets. The presidential offices are under the control of the Maiden protestors. The jailed opposition leader and former President Yulia Tymoshenko is expected to released from prison on the orders of Parliament. The Speaker of Parliament has resigned citing "ill health" and has been replaced by a pro-opposition MP. A new transitional government is being formed.
In one of latest tweets (@12.40 GMT) from a BBC correspondent in Maiden Square:
Daniel Sandford @BBCDanielS(In view of the rapidly moving events, the above is a precis of reporting on BBC News, Al Jazeera English and Sky News broadcasts. So far I have not checked on the reporting on RT however one contact for Sky News suggests Putin is adopting a "wait and see" policy.)
Crowd on the Maidan cheering at the (unconfirmed) news that President Yanukovich has resigned. Hard to confirm at the moment
Ukrainian MPs have voted to oust President Yanukovych and hold early presidential elections on 25 May.
The vote came barely an hour after Mr Yanukovych said in a televised address that he would not resign.
Protesters have walked unchallenged into the president's office and residential compounds
President Yanukovich is believed to be in or headed for his retreat in the eastern city of Kharkiv. This is in a strongly pro-Russian region and is also the location of the prison where Yulia Tymoshenko is held. That raises two possibilities - either she could be held as a hostage or participate in joint talks. Note though, from the commentary on the BBC live page:
12:17: Leaders of predominantly Russian-speaking regions in south-eastern Ukraine and Crimea have challenged the legitimacy of the national parliament in Kiev. At a meeting in Kharkiv, regional leaders said they were "taking all the powers into their hands" until the "constitutional order" is "guaranteed" in Kiev
5:17 AM PT: Am dipping into coverage from Russia Today (the Russian state broadcaster's news channel). The used the strap line "A Fractured Future". Analysist from Moscow State University emphasizing Russian line that the Maiden Square protesters ("Maiden Mobs") are all right wing motivated. Claims three main opposition leaders incapable of governing.
Another analysist: there is a power vacuum - strong differences between Maiden and three main leaders.
Section on coverage finishes with stock footage of security forces (only) under attack and "KIEV- ANARCHY REIGNS" emblazoned at the end
5:25 AM PT: From Sky News: AFP reporting that one of their correspondents has been told by "a lawmaker" that President Yanukovych has "promised to resign".
5:56 AM PT: From Al Jazeera English:
The president's ruling Regions Party that had previously pushed Ukraine closer toward Russia was also standing in disarray Saturday amid mass defections by lawmakers to opposition ranks.http://www.aljazeera.com/...
On air reporting that others have resigned as did the previous Speaker of parliament who cited "ill health".
6:40 AM PT: Apologies, had to reboot (Windows strikes again!)
Latest is that Yanukovych has appeared on state TV in a pre-recorded broadcast insisting he will not resign (immediately presumably as he is insisting on the Friday agreement brokered by 3 EU Foreign Minsters) and is not leaving the country.
He is likely in the same city where a meeting of the eastern regions have declared they will not recognize the decisions of Parliament and have taken local control.
6:51 AM PT: Ukraine win gold medal in women's biathalon at the Sochi Olympics.
From Sky News:
Russian Foreign Minister statement: Ukrainian opposition has failed to deliver on the deal (reached yesterday) and is led by armed extremists whose actions are posing a direct threat to the country's sovereignty Constitutional order.
7:10 AM PT: Russian Today top of the hour headlines (still using on-screen headline "FRACTURED FUTURE":
"Ukraine's President condemning what he calls "a coup" and defies calls for him to step down, he is now in the east of the country where local authorities say they are taking control of their regions"
"In Kiev, the opposition now dominating Parliament [shows fights on the floor of Parliament which will tie into earlier statements coming from the East that the previous Speaker had been beaten up after leaving] rules that former Prime Minister Tymoshenko must be released from jail as police reportedly join the uprising."
"European mediators that helped broker a crisis deal for Ukraine say that the opposition has failed to comply with its terms and Russia is urging the EU to reign in the radicals".
(Transcription of the broadcast by me to give flavor of Russian coverage)
7:34 AM PT: Parliament has dismissed President Yanukovych by a majority of 328 votes (no exact figures available).. New elections will be held on May 25. New Defense Minister appointed (former one said to have fled)
In at least three towns outside Kiev, statues of Lenin have been toppled.
7:58 AM PT: Sky News:
Confirmation that Tymoshenko has been released.
8:19 AM PT: France 24 has just had this headline on their web site:
"Government announces 'anti-terrorist' operation across Ukraine"
More when this becomes clearer as the main four police forces in Kiev have declared allegiance to the interim administration i.e. Parliament.
8:23 AM PT: From the BBC live page:
16:13: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague issues a statement on developments in Ukraine: "Today I am in close touch with key partners over the extraordinary developments in Ukraine. Events in the last 24 hours show the will of Ukrainians to move towards a different future, and ensure that the voices of those who have protested courageously over several months are heard. "
"We will work closely with our EU partners in support of a new government in Ukraine, as and when that is formed. In the meantime it is important that Ukraine's political leaders respond to events calmly and with determination to harness the united efforts of all Ukrainians to work together for a successful future."
8:39 AM PT: BBC showing pictures of Yulia Tymoshenko's convoy being mobbed by supporters on her release from prison. She comments "dictatorship has fallen". Also from BBC live feed page:
16:34: Here's the announcement of the removal of President Yanukovych, made by newly-appointed Ukraine parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov: "Taking into account that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych removed himself from fulfilling his constitutional duties, which threatens the governability of the state, Ukraine's territorial integrity and independence and leads to mass violation of the rights and freedoms of the citizens; given the circumstances of utter emergency, the Supreme Council of Ukraine, expressing the sovereign will of the Ukrainian people, decree the following. First, to establish that President Viktor Yanukovych has in an unconstitutional way removed himself from fulfilling his constitutional duties and fails to fulfil his duties. Second, in line with Clause 7 of Part 1 of Article 85 of the Ukrainian constitution, schedule an early presidential election for 25 May 2014. Third, this resolution comes into effect as soon as it is passed."
8:46 AM PT: Tweets from inside Yanokovych's residence (google translate used):
War Party @ gruppa_voina 9m
In Mezhigorie found cozy released on issuance of $ 12 million in cash pic.twitter.com / SGsFKksndc
(The photo appears to be a check or order to issue this amount)
Her other tweet shows his "throne".
8:48 AM PT: Whoops.
FRANCE 24: Apologies, it appears that the picture of the extravagant toilet does not belong to Yanukovich. The picture has been removed.
8:51 AM PT: From the Ukrainian Interfax agency:
Kharkiv Mayor Hennadiy Kernes and Head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration Mykhailo Dobkin have fled Ukraine through the Hoptivka international crossing point on the Ukrainian-Russian border in Kharkiv region, Natalia Stativko, the spokesperson for acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, said.
"Mr. Dobkin and Mr. Kernes have left Ukraine via Hoptivka," she told reporters in Kharkiv on Saturday.
16:59: Ukraine's new parliamentary speaker was quoted as saying President Viktor Yanukovych had tried to board a plane to Russia but had been prevented from doing so and was now in the Donetsk region. "He tried to get on a plane to Russia but border officials stopped him," Interfax news agency quoted Oleksander Turchynov, an opponent of Yanukovych, as saying. The report could not immediately be confirmed.
9:43 AM PT: BBC News has just reported that Yulia Tymoshenko has arrived in Kiev.