Events in Ukraine bring country back from the brink
Opposition leaders and the government or Ukraine in the form of President Viktor Yanukovych have signed an agreement which, it is hoped, will end the demonstrations which have engulfed the country during the past three months. An estimated 70 to 80 people were killed by government snipers in the past two days bringing the country very close to civil war.
Although the three main opposition leaders were signatories to the agreement they were booed when presenting the deal to protesters yesterday evening. It is unclear if the demonstrators will accept the terms of the agreement because it fails to see the end of the Yanukovych presidency.
Meanwhile the Kyiv Post has reported this morning that President Yanukovych has left the country for an undisclosed destination. The report came from an opposition leader so it cannot be verified at this stage. However, if the rumour is true and the parliament takes over responsibility for the day to day running of the country then a major breakthrough for the protesters will have been achieved.
In another development yesterday the Interior Minister, Vitali Zakharchenko, was dismissed by parliament. Parliament also voted to decriminalise the provisions under which former Prime Minister and opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko was imprisoned, meaning that she is no longer guilty of a criminal offence and could be released from prison very soon.
The full text of the agreement between President Yanukovych and opposition leaders is given below as published on the Ukrainian presidential website:
“Agreement on Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine has been signed
The ceremony of signing the Agreement on Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine has taken place in the Presidential Administration.
The Agreement has been signed by President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the political party “UDAR” Vitali Klitschko, leader of “VO “Batkivshchyna” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of “VO “Svoboda” Oleh Tiahnybok.
On behalf of the EU, the Agreement has been witnessed by Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Radosław Sikorski and Director at the Continental Europe Department of the French Foreign Ministry Eric Fournier.
Agreement on the Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine
Concerned with the tragic loss of life in Ukraine,
Seeking an immediate end of bloodshed,
Determined to pave the way for a political resolution of the crisis,
We, the signing parties, have agreed upon the following:
1. Within 48 hours of the signing of this agreement, a special law will be adopted, signed and promulgated, which will restore the Constitution of 2004 including amendments passed until now. Signatories declare their intention to create a coalition and form a national unity government within 10 days thereafter.
2. Constitutional reform, balancing the powers of the President, the government and parliament, will start immediately and be completed in September 2014.
3. Presidential elections will be held as soon as the new Constitution is adopted but no later than December 2014. New electoral laws will be passed and a new Central Election Commission will be formed on the basis of proportionality and in accordance with the OSCE & Venice commission rules.
4. Investigation into recent acts of violence will be conducted under joint monitoring from the authorities, the opposition and the Council of Europe.
5. The authorities will not impose a state of emergency. The authorities and the opposition will refrain from the use of violence.
The Parliament will adopt the 3rd amnesty, covering the same range of illegal actions as the 17th February 2014 law.
Both parties will undertake serious efforts for the normalization of life in the cities and villages by withdrawing from administrative and public buildings and unblocking streets, city parks and squares.
Illegal weapons should be handed over to the Ministry of Interior bodies within 24 hours of the special law, referred to in point 1 hereof, coming into force.
After the aforementioned period, all cases of illegal carrying and storage of weapons will fall under the law of Ukraine. The forces of authorities and of the opposition will step back from confrontational posture. The Government will use law enforcement forces exclusively for the physical protection of public buildings.
6. The Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Poland and the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation call for an immediate end to all violence and confrontation.
Kyiv, 21 February 2014
For the government: President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych
For the opposition: leader of the political party “UDAR” Vitali Klitschko, leader of “VO “Batkivshchyna” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of “VO “Svoboda” Oleh Tiahnybok
For the EU: Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Radosław Sikorski and Director at the Continental Europe Department of the French Foreign Ministry Eric Fournier.”