Protests grow stronger as anti-protest laws are dropped


Ukraine’s parliament will meet today to discuss the ongoing crisis in the country. The meeting will take place after the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych agreed yesterday to drop anti-protest laws which were put in place earlier this month. The deal, however, comes with conditions, including the withdrawal of protesters from state buildings.

On Sunday, Justice Minister Olena Lukash had threatened to introduce a state of emergency if protesters didn’t withdraw from their occupation of the justice ministry. During the talks former Economy and Foreign Affairs Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, now the parliamentary leader of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna or All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” refused the president’s offer of the prime minister’s job. The refusal indicates the position of strength the opposition feels it is in with the mass protests growing; it also shows their lack of trust in the president.

The opposition has changed its demands from December when they wanted the president to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) to today’s position which is the resignation of the president and the calling of fresh elections.

The state news agency UKR Inform has issued the following statement on the cancellation of the laws and ongoing negotiations:

“Lukash says January 16 laws will be cancelled

KYIV, January 28 /Ukrinform/. The working group on the settlement of the political situation in Ukraine and the leaders of the opposition parliamentary factions have completed another round of negotiations, during which the sides agreed on the cancellation of laws passed on January 16 and on the vote for the amnesty law.

A member of the working group on the settlement of the political situation, Justice Minister Olena Lukash, said this in a statement on the course of negotiations, which was posted on the website of the head of state.

“During the meeting the sides reached a conceptual agreement to vote for the law of Ukraine on amnesty. The insistence of our side is the following condition for this law: amnesty will take effect only if all seized buildings and roads are released. Otherwise, those who committed offenses will not be amnestied. There was also a political decision to repeal the laws adopted on January 16 this year, which caused numerous discussions. However, the laws that do not cause any remarks will be approved by parliament again. The provisions of the laws that expire [on January 28] will be worked out jointly by the parties and comply with European standards,” reads the statement.

During the negotiations the sides also drew attention to the issue of returning to the constitutional provisions of 2004.

“The sides noted the imperfection of Law No. 2222 and the lack of personal developments on the text of the constitution, and discussed joint participation in constitutional reform and mandatory cooperation on this issue with European institutions. They also discussed referendum procedures and agreed to put the question of confidence in the government on the agenda,” reads the statement.

According to the statement, the leader of the Batkivshchyna parliamentary faction, Arseniy Yatseniuk, rejected the president’s offer to head the government.

“Negotiations will continue,” Lukash concluded.”

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