Ukraine fallout, pit bulls and pensions

The next moves in Ukraine's political crisis are anticipated in Monday's newspapers - with several reporting Western fears about potential Russian intervention.

The Daily Telegraph highlights the UK's offer to help fund an international financial rescue package following the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Western leaders must do everything they can to promote a working economy in Ukraine so that its institutions - above all its government - can be free from corruption and outside interference," the paper says in an editorial.

The Guardian says the Kremlin has the potential to "create the most mischief" because of pro-Russian affinities in Ukraine's east and south, and the country's dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Reporting from Sevastopol, where ethnic Russians make up a majority of the population, the Times' Ben Hoyle, witnessed special forces receiving a "huge cheer" on their return back from confrontations with demonstrators in Kiev last week.

"In a display of raw emotion that laid bare the deep divisions now threatening Ukraine's future, several thousand people surged forward, chanting 'thank you' and 'well done' and pressing red carnations and cakes into their arms," he says.

In the Financial Times, Courtney Weaver writes: "While the pro-EU protesters on Kiev's main square declared victory following Viktor Yanukovych's flight from the capital, in Crimea the battle for Ukraine's future is still going on, with a swath of the population prepared to fight back against the 'coup'."

An editorial in the Financial Times says it would be an "immense achievement for European values" if Ukraine can be drawn into the economic and political community of Europe without alarming Russia.

"Such a development, however, will require the co-operation of Mr Putin. And this is why events in Kiev bring both extraordinary opportunity and extraordinary danger."

'None of our business'

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Reflection in Kiev on Sunday after weeks of protests

Following the release from detention of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the Times remains cautious over whether she really is "destined to lead the new Ukraine".

It portrays her as a "paradox.... the unifying figure that the opposition lacked as it faced government snipers... the former business tycoon who proved so divisive as prime minister".

The Independent also reckons the "prospect of her returning to power would be divisive in a country that urgently needs to unite".

An editorial in the Daily Mirror alludes to the "memories of the Arab Spring".

"The uprising in Cairo started with people ousting a despot but ended with a military coup after an elected Islamist divided instead of united the nation," it says.

"Russia and the EU must play a part by encouraging democracy rather than using Ukraine in an East-West tug of war."

Daily Express columnist Leo McKinstry warns against the UK becoming too involved.

Ukraine's future is "none of our business here in Britain," he writes.

"The impulse by our politicians to meddle should be resisted for the recent British record of intervention in other nations has been disastrous. We have quite enough problems at home without becoming embroiled in another foreign entanglement."

Database 'benefits'

National Insurance, which was introduced in 1913 as a way for workers and employees to contribute towards benefits such as a state pension, could be about to be renamed "earnings tax", the Daily Telegraph reports.

Proposed legislation is being backed by the Chancellor George Osborne and campaigners for greater financial transparency in the hope it will be the first step towards merging income tax and National Insurance.

In its lead story, the Times reports that ministers are to order pension fund managers to come clean about hidden costs which can wipe thousands of pounds off the value of retirement savings pots.

In an editorial, it says it was a "national scandal" but "it is a disgrace that legislation will be needed where competition and common decency should have sufficed".

Staying with pensions, the Daily Express, suggests that recent TUC data on jobs is evidence that millions of women are being forced back to work because of inadequate pensions.

Poverty is driving huge numbers of middle-aged women to find work and pushing female employment to record levels, the paper says.

Leading doctors and health professionals have written to the Times to say NHS leaders have failed to explain to the public that sharing patients' records would lead to significant medical advances.

It comes after plans to share GP medical records on a giant database were delayed for six months amid fears the information could be misused.

The 57 signatories to the letter say "scant attention has been paid to the benefits," citing the identification of deaths associated with some asthma drugs as one of the past examples of where "data linkage" worked.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that the medical records of every NHS patient in the UK have been sold to insurers.

The newspaper says a report by the Staple Inn Actuarial Society shows that 13 years of hospital data, covering 47 million patients, has been obtained by insurance companies so they can "refine" their premiums.

Empty resorts

The lead story in the Independent relates to an interview in the paper with the information commissioner in which he says blue-chip companies accused of using private investigators to obtain information about members of the public illegally should face unlimited crown court fines.

Christopher Graham expresses concern about the effectiveness of current legislation, telling the paper, that it is "not surprisingly the public doesn't have great confidence that their personal information will stay secure".

The Sun reports that thousands of American pit bull terriers and other "lethal" dogs are being sold online by a network of illegal breeders for as little as £50. Its investigation found secret code words were used to attract buyers and many of the dogs ended up in criminal hands.

It welcomes tough new sentences for the owners of dangerous dogs but highlights demands for further action such as a a ban on sales of pets over the internet.

The Daily Star carries more details about the British police investigation the disappearance of schoolgirl Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007. It says local officers have now provided Met Police investigators with a set of files detailing burglars operating in the area at the time, giving them new hope of solving the case.

The front page story in the Daily Mirror claims former security agents currently being held by police in their native Serbia may be linked to the killing of BBC TV presenter Jill Dando in London in 1999.

The source of the story - the widow of a Serbian journalist shot dead just days earlier - has raised similar suspicions in the past

According to figures collated by the Guardian, more than 11 million homes lie empty across Europe.

The paper says many of the homes are in vast holiday resorts built in run up to the 2007-08 financial crisis and have never been occupied. In Spain more than 3.4 million homes lie vacant, and there are in excess of two million homes are empty in both France and Italy, 1.8 million in Germany and more than 700,000 in the UK, it reports.

Sochi 'joke'

Photographs from the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics adorn the front pages.

The Sun is among the papers to report the way organisers "poked fun" at themselves as dancers formed themselves into four Olympic rings and a clump - a reference to a technical hitch during the opening ceremony - before eventually opening the fifth ring.

Image copyright Reuters

The Daily Telegraph reckons the joke "stole" the closing ceremony show, while the Independent says organisers of the Winter Olympics showed they "could laugh at themselves".

For the Guardian's Owen Gibson, the Games appeared to be a success for Russia and although the "ice hockey team failed to follow the script.... just about everything else went to plan".

"At the opening ceremony a fortnight ago, all the talk was of security fears, culls of stray dogs, last-minute glitches and a giant hydraulic snowflake that failed to open," he writes.

"But by the closing ceremony - which featured ballet from the Bolshoi, music by Rachmaninov and tributes to Tolstoy and Kandinsky plus the usual protocol - the atmosphere was one of pure celebration."

However, he says the debate over whether the Games were worth their $51bn (£30bn) investment was "only just beginning".

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