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Ukrainian opposition urges snap elections, continues protests despite PM position offer

Published time: January 25, 2014 20:29
Edited time: January 27, 2014 13:02

UDAR party leader Vitaly Klitschko (C), Svoboda (Freedom) Party head Oleg Tyagnibok (R) and Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party leader Arseny Yatsenyuk (L) (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

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Opposition leaders called for an early presidential election following a Saturday meeting with the government, where top government posts were offered to protest leaders and a review of the constitution was promised.

Read RT's timeline of the Ukrainian clashes.

The proposal to offer positions within the Ukrainian government to opposition leaders will be considered by all three parties and discussed with the people, Batkivschina leader Arseny Yatsenyuk said.

“We are not rejecting the offer, nor are we accepting it. We are in the midst of serious consultations between all three opposition parties. This is our mutual decision,” he said. “We are ready to take on the responsibility for the country’s future, but only under the conditions that will be set by us.”

The opposition is ready to head up the government and bring Ukraine into the EU, Yatsenyuk added.

“Our task - is a new Ukrainian government ... We accept that responsibility and we are ready to bring Ukraine into the EU, which calls for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko,” he continued.

"Our country is put by those at power to the brink of falling apart...We demand that Yanukovich relieves the position of Ukraine's president and we need a new constitution."

Following the talks, the head of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party, Vitaly Klitschko, said that Yanukovich agreed to many demands. “But we do not step back and demand elections this year,” he told protesters.

“What is Yanukovich ready for? For release and amnesty of all those detained. To work on getting back to the constitution of 2004. Dismissal of government on certain conditions. [He] still does not agree to abolish dictatorial laws, but only to amend them,” Klitschko added.

“Our demands: get rid of those laws...have presidential elections this year. Negotiations are continuing and we must hold on. And we will not succumb to any provocations.

Leader of the nationalist Svoboda opposition party, Oleg Tyagnibok, told protesters that those in power are backing down and changing their tune from two days ago.

The government’s negotiations with the opposition have so far yielded no results, which could signal that the standoff between the two sides will continue for the next couple of days, RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky explained.

Rioters storm convention center in bid to oust police

Rioters have stormed the Ukrainian House international convention center. The siege of the convention center by protesters in Kiev is now over, RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky reported. The head of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party, Vitaly Klitschko, played a key role in negotiating the policemen's retreat.

Riots near the House of Ukraine, Kiev, January 26, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)

There were around 200 riot police inside the building at the time of the siege, all of whom exited through a side window.

Protesters threw small bombs and Molotov cocktails into the convention center. Police did not retaliate.

Ambulances have been seen coming and going from the center, and numerous reports have emerged that several interior ministry troops are injured inside the building.

“Tensions are far from dying down in Ukraine’s capital Kiev. We do now know that the opposition has refused to meet proposals of the president about withdrawing protesters on the street in exchange for constitutional reforms for tweaking the laws described as draconian in the country, the anti-riot laws that were passed on January 16,” Yaroshevsky said.

Riots near the House of Ukraine, Kiev, January 26, 2014. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

Demonstrators were trying to force police out of the convention center, fearing they will use the building as an outpost to attack the protesters’ barricades from behind.

The mood of the protesters has become increasingly aggressive. After speaking to the core group on Independence Square, Yaroshevsky said that rioters “indicated that they would not be willing to move away from this position regardless of what the opposition or any other politician says.”

Riots near the House of Ukraine, Kiev, January 26, 2014. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

“Their main goal right now is to topple the government, topple the president. That is what they stand for. We also heard that the opposition leaders speaking on the stage were on numerous occasions booed by the protesters at Independence Square,” he added.

During the Saturday meeting, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich offered top government posts to protest leaders and promised a review of the constitution - a move aimed at giving more power to parliament.

Riots near the House of Ukraine, Kiev, January 26, 2014. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

Yanukovich proposed the post of prime minister to Arseny Yatsenyuk, justice minister Elena Lukash said after the president’s meeting with opposition leaders.

"The president offered the post of prime minister to Arseny Yatsenyuk. In the case of the latter's consent to take the post, the president of Ukraine will decide on the resignation of the government,” Lukash said.

Vitaly Klitchko was offered the post of deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs.

The president’s offer came as the government struggles to cope with the protests and violence that continue to grip the entire country.

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