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Monday, February 17, 2014

Ukraine: Euromaidan continues its rallies as opposition and government have reached first agreements in the talks

Massive rally has been held in Kyiv on Sunday, 16 February
(Image: Olga Lappo)
Another traditional People’s Council has been held on Sunday, 16 February, in Kyiv’s Independence Square, as Euromaidan rallies and peaceful protests continue all over Ukraine. Nearly 100 thousand people have gathered in Sunday in Kyiv and dozens of thousands have joined Euromaidan rallies in other Ukrainian cities as well.

People have gathered to hear the strategy and the next steps of the plan of opposition in their talks with the authorities and in the fight for freedom and democracy of Ukraine.

Oppositional leaders including Arseny Yatsenyuk, Oleg Tyagnybok, Petro Poroshenko and others have delivered their speeches from the stage stating that the protests will go on and that the decisive steps are expected to be done on Tuesday, as the Parliamentary session is planned for this day. Mr. Yatsenyuk has declared that there are high expectations that the big changes could occur in Ukrainian politics as the chances for the compromises with the government are high and the divisions within pro-Yanukovich Party of Regions are also deepening.

Barricades have been partially removed in Kyiv downtown
(Image: Den')
Another oppositional leader, Olag Tyagnybok, has mentioned that the Tuesday’s session will be very important as the issue of the Constitutional reform will be discussed and voted. Opposition will try to make everything possible to achieve the positive results if the voting process and return to the 2004 Constitution limiting presidential powers.

In addition to that Tuesday’s Parliamentary session has another issue on its agenda, as the MPs are expected to vote for the candidacy of the new Prime Minister of Ukraine, offered by Yanukovich. European Union and USA are supporting this step as they consider forming of the interim technical government of Ukraine, which will include representatives of opposition, authorities and civil society of Ukraine, being an important step in the roadmap for Ukraine. EU sees negotiations and compromises as the best option for resolving the crisis in Ukraine. In case the new technical government will be formed, EU will support it financially with the $ 25 billion financial aid.

Meanwhile, the first compromise steps have been done by the opposition and government on Sunday, as protesters and activists started to free some of the administrative buildings in Kyiv and in other Ukrainian cities, seized by the revolutionary forces before. This option was a condition for the implementing of the recently adopted and strongly criticized amnesty law, as government declared that the detained activists will be released only after the administrative buildings will be left by protesters. The deadline was declared for the 17th February. Thus, activists have left the building of Kyiv City Council and some other administrative building, but the units of Maidan self defense remain in the area to secure it and to prevent the possible provocations.

Activists in front of the Kyiv City Council building
(Image: Kyiv Post)
Barricades have been partially removed on Grushevsky Street as well, where the fiercest clashes occurred in January. The numbers of riot police and security forces have also decreased. Traffic is partially renewed on the street, but protesters have erected the iron gates there in order to have the chance to erect the new barricades and to block the street fast in case the authorities will violate the agreements and try to use force.

After the administrative buildings have been left by protesters and given to the authorities, oppositional leaders Arseny Yatsenyuk and Oleg Tyagnybok have met with Mr. Pshonka, Prosecutor General, and demanded the implementation of the amnesty law. Mr. Pshonka has made later an official statement declaring that there are no obstacles for the implementation of the amnesty law, as the conditions have been met, and the detained activists will be released with the criminal cases against them closed. The law will come in power on 17 February, Monday, and the activists are expected to be released during the next month, according to the official statement.

In addition to that special technical group will be formed to control and ensure the implementation of the amnesty law, stated oppositional leaders talking about the results of their negotiations with the authorities and Prosecutor General. This group will include representatives of the oppositional and pro-government MPs, civic society, activists of Euromaidan and security forces.

Barricades remaining in the streets
(Image: Den')
Maidan though will continue its peaceful protest and rallies, state Arseny Yatsenyuk, and Khreshchatyk, Independence Square, House of Trade Unions, October Palace and Ukrainian House will remain currently under control of the protesters.

The Sunday’s achievement was welcomed by the Western governments and diplomats as a step to the compromises. EU diplomats have praised this step stating that the protesters have moral advantages of their side now. Oppositional leaders see this achievement as an important one but they will continue their fight for the total rehabilitation of the detained activists and release of other activists remaining under arrest. Opposition and Maidan will also demand the accountability for the violence and excessive forces used by security forces against the peaceful protesters, stated from the stage another leader of the opposition, Petro Poroshenko.
The key demand of the protests though remains without changes and is on the agenda: Yanukovich should step down. This demand was expressed by the oppositional leaders again during the People’s Council.

Massive protests in Kyiv
(Image: Espresso TV)
Meanwhile, two leaders of Ukrainian opposition, Vitaly Klichko and Arseny Yatsenyuk, are expected to visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, 17 February, in order to discuss the current political situation in Ukraine, the possible ways out of the crisis and the plan and roadmap of the opposition. This meeting should happen on the eve of the decisive Tuesday’s Parliamentary session.

As for the further steps, Ukrainian opposition calls for the massive rallies to be held on Tuesday, 19 February, in front of the Parliament’s building, in order to press MPs to vote for the Constitutional reform and return to the 2004 edition of the national Charter.