News / Europe

Ukrainian Parliament Offers Amnesty to Protesters

Members of various anti-government paramilitary groups march along a street during a show of force in Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014.
Members of various anti-government paramilitary groups march along a street during a show of force in Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014.
VOA News
Ukraine's parliament has approved a measure offering amnesty to protesters arrested during anti-government demonstrations, but only if they abandon the buildings they have seized.

Lawmakers passed the measure Wednesday night, but the opposition in parliament opposed the move. Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk described as "unacceptable" the condition that protesters vacate the buildings.

On Tuesday, the country's embattled President Viktor Yanukovych accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, a key demand of the protesters. First deputy, Serhiy Arbuzov, has been named acting prime minister.

Additionally, Yanukovych signed legislation repealing anti-protest measures enacted earlier this month to crush the protests.

Meanwhile, former Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk warned Ukraine is on "the brink of civil war," adding there are "parallel authorities in the country and there is a de-facto uprising."

Story continues after photo gallery
  • 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)

In Washington, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden welcomed Tuesday's concessions and voiced support for amnesty measures to ease the two-month crisis.

Opposition supporters took to the streets in late November when Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia that include a $15 billion Russian bailout.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated a promise he made a day earlier that even if the opposition comes to power in Ukraine, Moscow will make good on its pledge to provide the $15 billion loan along with substantial natural gas discounts.

“I would ask our government to fulfill all our financial agreements in full,” he said.

But Russian Economics Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Wednesday that the “schedules and parameters” of financial aid to Ukraine required “further discussion” with Kyiv and “consideration of the restructuring" of Ukraine's government.

On Tuesday, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Moscow probably would re-examine its pledges if a new Ukrainian government were to announce “different priorities.”

The Kremlin said in a statement Wednesday that Putin had stressed during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that "any outside interference" in Ukraine is "unacceptable."

Some information for this report comes from Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Petr Jandacek from: Los Alamos NM USA
January 29, 2014 6:00 PM
Because as a child I escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia - my comments are formed by my personal history. The very name UKRAJINA means PERIPHERAL (substandard)! BOLSHOI RUS will always think of MALAYA RUS as inferior. When the Land becomes FREE of Overlords -- it should be called KIEVA!

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