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Ukraine Opposition 'Ready' to Vacate Kiev City Hall

  • VOA News

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, second left, talks to opposition leaders, Kiev, Jan. 27, 2014.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, second left, talks to opposition leaders, Kiev, Jan. 27, 2014.

Opposition leaders in Ukraine say protesters are ready to vacate the Kyiv city hall they have occupied for more than two months.

But head of the nationalist Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok, said Saturday the decision to do so has not yet been made.

"We do not have a final decision yet," he said. "If we have guarantees that right after this step, the government will close all the criminal cases against participants of the protest movements, with the consent of the Maidan [Kyiv's Independence Square], we are ready to take this step."

The apparent easing of tensions comes after Ukrainian authorities freed all 234 jailed members of the protest movement. The release was part of an amnesty law passed last month. The government says criminal charges will be dropped once the opposition vacates seized government buildings in the Ukrainian capital — another requirement of the law.

Nationwide protests against President Viktor Yanukovych erupted in November when he backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called the release of protesters an important step to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine and move toward a peaceful solution to the country's crisis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised Ukraine a $15 billion aid package when a new government is in place, even if it is run by the opposition.

Some information for this report comes from AP and AFP.

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