Published On: Sat, Feb 22nd, 2014

Ukraine Protesters Stay On The Streets Despite Deal

Thousands of protesters have remained in Kiev’s main square despite a deal aimed at ending Ukraine’s political crisis, in which dozens have died.The pact, signed on Friday by President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition, says a unity government will be formed and a presidential election held.

Ukraine protesters stay

But many protesters do not believe Mr Yanukovych can be trusted.

The US and Russian presidents have agreed that the deal needs to be swiftly implemented, officials say.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin told Barack Obama that Russia wants be part of the implementation process in a telephone conversation on Friday, a US State Department spokesperson said.

The deal, reached after mediation by EU foreign ministers, came after the bloodiest day since the unrest began in November.

Police opened fire on Thursday on protesters who have been occupying Independence Square in central Kiev. The health ministry said 77 people had been killed since Tuesday.

The deal has been met with scepticism by some of the thousands of protesters who remain in the square.

Opposition leaders who signed it were booed and called traitors by crowds, the BBC’s Gavin Hewitt reports from Kiev.

Earlier, coffins of anti-government protesters were carried across the square as funeral ceremonies for those killed in the clashes got underway.

Meanwhile one group of far-right protesters is threatening to take action if President Yanukovych does not resign by Saturday morning.

‘Good compromise’

The agreement, published by the German foreign ministry, includes the following:

  • The 2004 constitution will be restored within 48 hours, and a national unity government will be formed within 10 days
  • Constitutional reform balancing the powers of president, government and parliament will be started immediately and completed by September
  • A presidential election will be held after the new constitution is adopted but no later than December 2014, and new electoral laws will be passed
  • An investigation into recent acts of violence will be conducted under joint monitoring from the authorities, the opposition and the Council of Europe
  • The authorities will not impose a state of emergency and both the authorities and the opposition will refrain from the use of violence
  • Both parties will undertake serious efforts for the normalisation of life in the cities and villages by withdrawing from administrative and public buildings and unblocking streets, city parks and squares
  • Illegal weapons will be handed over to interior ministry bodies

The agreement was was signed by Mr Yanukovych and opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnibok.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski tweeted that the deal was a “good compromise for Ukraine” which would open the way “to reform and to Europe”.

The White House has welcomed Friday’s deal, praising “the courageous opposition leaders who recognised the need for compromise”.

The US remained prepared to impose sanctions on the Ukrainian government if the violence continues, it said in a statement.

Shortly after the deal was signed, Ukraine’s parliament approved the restoration of the 2004 constitution, with all but one of the 387 MPs present voting in favour.

Parliament also approved an amnesty for protesters accused of involvement in violence.

MPs voted for a change in the law which could lead to the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, an arch-rival of Mr Yanukovych.

She was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for abuse of power. Her supporters say this was simply Mr Yanukovych taking out his most prominent opponent.

Dozens of MPs from Mr Yanukovych’s own Party of Regions voted for the motions, in what correspondents say will be a humiliation for the president.

The protests first erupted in late November when Mr Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia.