Ukraine's parliament has voted to dismiss President Viktor Yanukovych and called for early presidential elections on May 25, but the embattled leader says he will not resign or leave Ukraine.
Parliament on Saturday also voted to free jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister. She was later released from a prison hospital in the northeastern city of Kharkiv where she was serving time for abuse of power.
Ms. Tymoshenko, a long-time adversary of Mr. Yanukovych, said after her release that the "dictatorship has fallen."
In an interview Saturday with a Ukrainian television station, Mr. Yanukovych said he intends to remain in office. He called the violent uprising against him an example of a "coup," and compared it to the Nazis' rise to power in Germany in the 1930s.
The president, who is in Kharkiv near the Russian border, also said all decisions made by Ukraine's parliament Saturday were illegal.
The dramatic developments came as crowds massed near Ukraine's parliament building to demand Mr. Yanukovich's resignation. Thousands of protesters were in Kyiv's Independence Square, objecting to a deal signed Friday by Ukraine's president and the opposition aimed at ending the country's political crisis.
Friday's agreement returns Ukraine to its 2004 constitution, limiting presidential powers. The deal also includes setting up a coalition government and early elections.
Protests erupted in Ukraine in November when President Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia.
The protests began peacefully but descended into violence earlier this month. Nearly 100 people have been killed, including some protesters who were shot in the head by police snipers.
Along with early elections, the deal signed Friday would replace Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko, who the opposition blames for the deaths of protesters.
Also Saturday, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko urged Mr. Yanukovych to resign so elections can be held no later than May.
On Saturday, parliament also elected a new speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, a longtime ally of Ms. Tymoshenko. Turchynov was elected soon after pro-government speaker Volodymyr Rybak submitted his resignation, citing ill health.
Ukraine is split between those in the east who favor ties with Russia, and those in the west who lean toward the European Union.