News / Europe

Ukraine's Leader Agrees to Repeal Some Anti-Protest Laws

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, second left, talks to opposition leaders Oleh Tyahnybok, first right, Vitali Klitschko, second right, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, third right, in Kyiv,Jan. 27, 2014.
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, second left, talks to opposition leaders Oleh Tyahnybok, first right, Vitali Klitschko, second right, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, third right, in Kyiv,Jan. 27, 2014.
James Brooke
Ukraine's embattled President Viktor Yanukovych has agreed to repeal some of the harsh anti-protest laws that have helped fuel increasingly violent protests for more than a week. The decision came after talks with opposition leaders late Monday.  A statement on the presidential website said repeal of the laws will be addressed at a special session of parliament that begins on Tuesday.

Earlier Monday Ukrainian protesters ended their occupation of the Justice Ministry, allowing talks to start between Yanukovych and opposition leaders.
 
The talks are seen as crucial to the special session of the nation’s parliament on Tuesday. Ukraine’s beleaguered president has promised to ask the parliament to repeal new authoritarian laws restricting freedom of assembly.

The laws sparked a national wave of protest, plunging Ukraine into its deepest political crisis since it won independence from the Soviet Union 23 years ago.

Martial law?
 
In recent days, radical protesters occupied the energy, justice and agriculture ministries, prompting some people here to say the president is losing control of the capital. Sunday’s occupation of the Justice Ministry prompted Justice Minister Olena Lukash to threaten Monday to call for a state of emergency.
 
Widely seen as a form of martial law, this could involve Yanukovych asking the army to repress protesters. It is unclear if army generals would obey orders to act against the spreading protests.

In recent days, protesters took over local government offices in all of western Ukraine. Attempts to take over offices in four eastern Ukrainian cities led to pitched battles between protesters and riot police and civilian gangs. Since Sunday, dozens have been injured and dozens more jailed.
 
On Monday, Ukrainian TV aired videos of these fights, where young men from sports groups joined riot police in clubbing protesters.

Disappearances and torture
 
Also Monday, the European Union’s office in Ukraine, accused the government of waging a dirty war against its political opponents.
 
The EU statement read: “Arrests of wounded people in front of clinics, several cases of disappearance and reported torture are extremely worrying and can be accepted under no circumstances.”
 
  • An opposition supporter looks on as he warms himself next to a fire in a barricade near Kyiv's Independence Square, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters march in central Kyiv, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters march in central Kyiv, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • An opposition supporter stands next to a burning tire at a barricade in central Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Riot police stand in a cordon facing anti-government protesters as temperatures stand at minus 20 degrees Celsius at a barricade near Independence Square in Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters walk in the tent city at Independence Square in Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Protesters, with signs reading "Mother" on their chests, and ""The government don't kill our children," walk away from a police cordon in central Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Members of various anti-government paramilitary groups walk in formation during a show of force in Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • Members of various anti-government paramilitary groups attend a religious service at a chapel in Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • A protest camp in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2014. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)
  • Protest camps in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2013. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)

Ukraine’s protests erupted two months ago, when Yanukovych unexpectedly pulled out of signing an association agreement with the European Union. Instead, he signed up for a $15 billion bailout deal with Russia.
 
This East-West fight over Ukraine has brought relations between the EU and Russia to their chilliest level since Russia’s war with Georgia five years ago.  This week, EU leaders cut a long planned two-day EU-Russia summit to a three-hour meeting on Tuesday. They also cancelled a Monday night dinner with President Vladimir Putin.

Some material in this report was contributed by Reuters

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid