News / Europe

Ukraine's Opposition Pushes for Limits on Presidential Powers

An anti-government protester is reflected in a mirror as he stands guard on a barricade that faces a cordon of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 3, 2014.
An anti-government protester is reflected in a mirror as he stands guard on a barricade that faces a cordon of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 3, 2014.
VOA News
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych returned to work Monday after four days of sick leave, as opposition leaders said they would seek changes to the country's constitution that would limit presidential powers.

The opposition wants to restore constitutional changes limiting the powers of the president and giving parliament more say in forming governments. Those changes were enacted in 2004 but later overturned by the country's constitutional court.

Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Monday that restoring the 2004 constitution would "cancel the dictatorial powers of the president."

Ukraine's parliament is expected to discuss that proposal on Tuesday, as well as the opposition's demand that those arrested during anti-government protests be granted amnesty unconditionally.

The opposition has also demanded that Yanukovych resign and new presidential elections be held.

About 30,000 anti-government demonstrators seeking his ouster protested Sunday in Kyiv's barricaded Independence Square. It was one of the largest gatherings in two months of demonstrations against the Yanukovych government.

The United States has supported the protest movement, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying it represents the former Soviet republic's fight for "a democratic, European future."

The protests started in November when Yanukovych, under pressure from Moscow, turned down a partnership with the European Union. The Ukraine faces severe economic troubles and Russia has promised a $15-billion rescue.

  • 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)

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