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Ukraine lawmakers consider protester amnesty

January 29, 2014
Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's parliament discussed an amnesty Wednesday for those arrested during weeks of protests in the crisis-torn country — but some of the possible conditions attached to it would be unacceptable to the opposition.

The amnesty bill is part of a series of concessions from embattled President Viktor Yanukovych, after a week of street clashes between police and protesters and protesters' seizure of government buildings in western Ukraine. The prime minister has resigned and harsh anti-protest laws have been recalled but those moves did not address the protesters' other key demands that Yanukovych resign and early elections be held.

Two amnesty proposals were up for a parliamentary vote Wednesday, one of which says amnesty would be granted only if demonstrators leave their massive street protests and vacate buildings they occupy.

Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the protesters will not agree to leave the streets in exchange for an amnesty and wanted the condition dropped.

Over the course of two months, anti-government protesters have established a large tent camp in the main square of Kiev, called the Maidan, and seized three buildings nearby as operation centers and sleeping quarters. They have also erected large barricades of ice, wood, furniture and other materials.

"They have set a number of conditions, and the key condition under the draft bill is to let the Maidan go and only afterwards all protesters will get an amnesty," Yatsenyuk said. "This is unacceptable for us."

Meanwhile, one group of protesters clashed with another Wednesday in bid to free a government building in the center of Kiev, which they had seized. At least two protesters were injured.

Andriy Khoronets, an activist with the Svoboda party which represents more moderate protesters, tried to force members of the more militant Spilna Sprava group to vacate the Agriculture Ministry building as part of a compromise with the government.

"We must be seen as people who can fulfill one's obligations," Khoronets told The Associated Press outside the building. "There should be no anarchy."

The protests erupted after Yanukovych turned down a deal in November with the European Union in favor of getting a $15 billion bailout from Russia, but they have since shifted to demanding more human rights, less corruption and more democracy in this nation of 45 million.

 
 

 

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