UKRAINE CRISIS: PROTESTERS APPARENTLY IN FULL CONTROL OF GOVERNMENT DISTRICT IN KYIV

BBC News on February 22, 2014, reported that the Kiev offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych are unguarded, with opposition protesters apparently in full control of the government district. Excerpts below:

The capital is quiet, a day a deal was signed to end a political crisis in which dozens have died.

Despite the deal, thousands of people have remained in a central square, demanding the president’s resignation.

The pact says a unity government will be formed and elections held.

It was signed on February 21 by President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition, but many protesters say they do not believe Mr Yanukovych can be trusted.

…the roads leading up to the presidential building are now controlled by protesters. The gates are locked, with only a few security guards inside, he adds.

Some new barricades have been put in place, manned by protesters.

There are unconfirmed reports that President Yanukovych has left Kiev.

One group of…protesters had threatened to take action if he did not resign by morning of February 22.

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

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.

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

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

It 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” that would open the way “to reform and to Europe”.

Any political deal between President Yanukovych and the opposition movement will have to pass the test …in Lviv. It is a city that has been at the forefront of the protests, sending busloads of demonstrators 500 km east to Kiev on a nightly basis.

Lviv has always looked west rather than east: a city for centuries under Austrian and then Polish rule, it only fell to the Soviets during World War Two and has remained fiercely proud of its Ukrainian identity ever since.

The writ of the Kiev government does not extend here. Every regional administration building is now under the control of the protest movement. I visited the police headquarters, taken on February 18 by the opposition and ransacked. At the security service office, burnt out cars lie in the courtyard. The mood here is one of defiance: that President Yanukovych must step down now.

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.

–.

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.

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