World News

Ukraine President and Opposition Leaders Sign Deal to End Crisis

Ukraine's president and three opposition leaders signed a deal Friday to end the political crisis that erupted in violence this week, leaving scores dead.

The agreement's provisions include returning to the 2004 constitution, which would decrease the powers of the presidency and increase those of the parliament, setting up a national unity government within 10 days and holding an early presidential election later this year.

The deal was signed after President Viktor Yanukovych bowed to opposition pressure and announced he would hold early elections, form a coalition government, and make constitutional changes.

His announcement followed all-night talks between representatives of his government and the opposition, brokered by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Poland.

The White House welcomed the agreement.

"We support the efforts of all those who negotiated this agreement, commend the courageous opposition leaders who recognized the need for compromise, and offer the support of the United States in its implementation," it said in a statement Friday. "Now, the focus must be on concrete action to implement this agreement, which we will be monitoring closely."

Shortly after the agreement was signed Friday, Ukraine's parliament voted to restore the 2004 constitution.

It also voted to remove Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko, who is among the officials the opposition holds responsible for the killing of dozens of anti-government protesters, and to amend the country's criminal code in a way that would permit the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.

Just before the deal was inked Friday, another EU mediator, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, posted on Twitter: "We are about to sign. Good compromise for Ukraine. Gives peace a chance. Opens the way to reform and to Europe. Poland and the EU support it."



But Ruslan Deynychenko of VOA's Ukrainian Service, who witnessed this week's violence in Kyiv, said Friday's agreement might be hard to sell to anti-government demonstrators who saw comrades killed.



"The problem is that people on Maidan, protesters, they don't think it is enough because they demand the immediate resignation of [the] president, because they believe he is responsible for orders to kill peaceful protesters."



Ukraine suffered its bloodiest day since Soviet times on Thursday as battles erupted in central Kyiv between riot police and anti-government protesters. Dozens of people were killed, some by government sniper fire, with some reports putting the single day death toll over 70.

Hundreds of others were reported wounded.



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

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

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Friday that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the situation in Ukraine by telephone earlier in the day.

The ministry said the call was made at Ashton's initiative and that Lavrov had "resolutely condemned the actions of radicals" -- an apparent reference to opposition activists, who he said bore the "principal responsibility" for the violence in Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, to Ukraine to help mediate the talks between the Ukrainian government and opposition.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs