Accessibility links

Ukraine President, Opposition Sign Deal

  • VOA News

Riot police prepare for duty near the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev February 21, after Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich announced concessions to his pro-European opponents, including a plan to hold early elections.

Riot police prepare for duty near the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev February 21, after Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich announced concessions to his pro-European opponents, including a plan to hold early elections.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed an agreement Friday with three opposition leaders to end a crisis that sparked violent clashes between protesters and police on the streets of the capital Kyiv.

A Reuters correspondent at the signing inside the presidential headquarters said Yanukovych did not smile during a ceremony lasting several minutes.

The agreement followed an announcement by Yanukovich to hold early elections, to form a national unity government and relinquish some of his presidential powers. The agreement was witnessed by two European Union foreign ministers who brokered the deal.

WATCH: RFE/RL's Live Stream from Kyiv

Shots fired

Meanwhile, reports say shots were fired Friday near Kyiv's Independence Square, the epicenter of the anti-government protests. The Ukrainian government has blamed the gunshots on protesters battling police, but that report has not been confirmed.

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.


Chaos in Lviv

Elsewhere, television footage from the western city of Lviv showed scenes of chaos, as anti-government protesters firebombed government buildings and some police declined to intervene.

The White House said Thursday it was "outraged by the images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people." The U.S. statement called on President Viktor Yanukovych "to immediately withdraw his security forces from downtown Kyiv and to respect the right of peaceful protest." It also urged protesters to "express themselves peacefully" and pressed the Ukrainian military "not to get involved in a conflict that can and should be resolved by political means."

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

The talks in Kyiv were brokered by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Poland. The president's web site said Russia was also involved in the talks.

Yanukovych and the leaders of anti-government protests had agreed on a truce Wednesday, saying it was aimed at "ending the bloodshed and stabilizing the situation...in the interests of social peace." The truce dissolved within hours.

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

Some information for this report provided by Reuters

WATCH: Related video report by Zlatica Hoke "Western Leaders Blame Ukraine Government for Violence"

XS
SM
MD
LG