Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Protesters seize Yanukovych’s office in Kiev

AFP and Reuters, KIEV

A member of the Ukraine’s parliament yesterday said that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has promised to submit his resignation in response to anti-government unrest that has left nearly 100 dead and hat continued yesterday with protesters seizing his Kiev office, leaving the embattled leader’s whereabouts a mystery.

Lawmaker Mykola Katerynchuk of the opposition Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party told reporters that Yanukovych said he would resign during a conversation with protest leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

In other developments, parliament voted to free Yanukovych’s archrival, jailed former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Her daughter said Tymoshenko was already free under Ukrainian law, but still in the hospital where she has been held for treatment.

Newly installed Ukrainian Minister of the Interior Arsen Avakov said the police were now behind the protesters they had fought for days.

The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including the police’s Berkut anti-riot units, appeared in parliament yesterday to say they would not take part in any conflict with the Ukrainian people.

They represented the paratroop unit of the military, the Berkut anti-riot police, Alfa special operations unit and military intelligence.

At the president’s headquarters, self-styled protest commander Ostap Kryvdyk said some protesters had entered the offices, but that there was no looting.

“We will guard the building until the next president comes,” he said. “Yanukovich will never be back.”

The grounds of Yanukovich’s residence outside Kiev were also being guarded by “self-defense” militia of protesters.

A senior security source said Yanukovich was still in Ukraine, but was unable to say if he was in the capital, while an ally was quoted as saying he was in a city in the country’s generally pro-Russian east.

The Ukrainian government, which is still led by a Yanukovich ally, said it would ensure a smooth handover of power to a new administration.

Yanukovich, made sweeping concessions in a deal brokered by European diplomats on Friday after days of pitched fighting in Kiev, but the deal, which called for early elections by the end of the year, was not enough to satisfy demonstrators, who want the Ukrainian president out immediately.

Parliament has quickly acted to implement the deal, voting to restore a constitution that curbs the president’s powers and to change the legal code to allow Tymoshenko to go free. Yesterday, lawmakers voted to speed her release by eliminating a requirement that the president approve it.

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