Ukraine president pledges government reshuffle ahead of more violence

January 25, 2014 | By | Reply More

Jan 25, – Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, in what appeared to be an offer of concessions to the opposition amid violent protests against his rule, pledged on Friday to reshuffle the government next week and to amend sweeping anti-protest laws.

hromedia Ukraine President Pledges Government Reshuffle ahead of more violence eu news2Yanukovich made his offer in comments to church leaders as the protesters erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building in Kiev ahead of what is expected to be another hot weekend of anti-government rallies.

The president’s Party of the Regions confirmed reports that two months of protests had spread to other parts of Ukraine, particularly to pro-European Union western regions, where it said “extremists” had seized administrative buildings.

Yanukovich, who hails from the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, said key decisions would be made at a special session of parliament scheduled to take place next Tuesday.

“I as president will sign a decree and we will reshuffle the government in order to find the best possible professional government team,” he said in comments carried on his website.

He gave no indication of how wide the government reshuffle would be and it was by no means certain Prime Minister Mykola Azarov or any other key figures would have to step down.

The dismissal of the Azarov government has been one of the main demands of the opposition and Yanukovich’s words were clearly intended to look like a concession to opponents who have voiced frustration at his stalling tactics in talks until now.

The promise to reconsider anti-protest legislation, which was rail-roaded through parliament last week by Yanukovich loyalists, also appeared to be a concession, which may take some steam out of fresh protest rallies planned for the weekend.

The mass rallies against Yanukovich’s rule erupted last November after he pulled out of a free trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer economic ties with Russia, Ukraine’s former Soviet overlord.

They have since spiraled into protests against misrule and corruption among Ukraine’s leaders and officials and there have been violent clashes with police in Kiev city center in which three protesters died this week, two from gunshot wounds.

The protesters control key parts of the city center, including its main Independence Square. On Friday, they occupied the main agricultural ministry building after talks stalled on Thursday night between Yanukovich and the opposition.

Commenting on the spread of protests to other cities, the Party of the Regions said in a statement: “The situation has grown sharper throughout the country.” It urged Ukrainians to ignore the calls of “radical troublemakers” to join the rallies.

Thousands stormed regional administration headquarters in Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnytsky in western and central Ukraine, as well as parts of the northeast, the Party of the Regions said.

More than 100 people have been detained in the unrest, including 24 formally arrested, according to police.

But though some protesters lit tires at the main flashpoint area near Dynamo Kiev football stadium, they generally appeared to have heeded an opposition call to maintain a truce.

In other conciliatory comments on Friday, Yanukovich said he would bring opposition leaders into an anti-crisis team and he said people who had been detained so far and had not committed serious crimes would be amnestied.

“I will do all I can to stop this conflict, to stop this violence and establish stability,” he told the church leaders, according to his web site.

But, referring to radicals who have bombarded riot police with petrol bombs and cobblestones, he said: “If we do not succeed, we will use all legal methods provided for by law.”

Press coordinator for HRO media – Norberto Lluch contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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