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EU Says Ukraine, Opposition to Sign Deal

A senior European Union diplomat says Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition representatives are expected to sign an agreement Friday aimed at ending months of bloody political unrest.

The diplomat said the pact would provide for some constitutional reforms. President Viktor Yanukovych announced the preliminary agreement Friday on his website but the opposition has yet to comment.

Meanwhile, reports say shots were fired Friday near Kyiv's Independence Square, scene of some of the most violent clashes the nation has seen during its three-month crisis.

The Ukrainian government has blamed the gunshots on protesters battling police, but that report has not been confirmed.

On Thursday, battles erupted in Kyiv between riot police and anti-government protesters despite a truce implemented a day earlier. Local officials said 39 people were killed, bringing the three-day toll to at least 69 fatalities.

But medical officials working with protesters said 70 to 100 people died on Thursday alone, some by government sniper fire. Hundreds of others were reported wounded.



Elsewhere, television footage from the western city of Lviv showed scenes of chaos, as anti-government protesters firebombed government buildings and some police declined to intervene.

The White House said Thursday it was "outraged by the images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people." The U.S. statement called on President Viktor Yanukovych "to immediately withdraw his security forces from downtown Kyiv and to respect the right of peaceful protest." It also urged protesters to "express themselves peacefully" and pressed the Ukrainian military "not to get involved in a conflict that can and should be resolved by political means."

In Brussels, European Union foreign ministers agreed in emergency session Thursday to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials deemed responsible for orchestrating the violence in the capital. The measures would include visa bans, asset freezes and restrictions on the export of anti-riot gear to the Ukrainian government. Washington imposed similar sanctions Wednesday.

The talks in Kyiv were brokered by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Poland. The president's web site said Russia was also involved in the talks.

Mr. Yanukovych and the leaders of anti-government protests had agreed on a truce Wednesday, saying it was aimed at "ending the bloodshed and stabilizing the situation...in the interests of social peace." The truce dissolved within hours.

Anti-government protests erupted in November, after after Mr. Yanukovych backed away from a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

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