Protesters in Kiev evacuate city hall building

Feb. 16, 2014 at 9:43 AM

KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Ukrainian protesters began evacuating Kiev's city hall Saturday after more than two months of occupation, officials said.

The move to end the occupation of the city hall building, which has been the headquarters for anti-government protest in Kiev since December, came after authorities released 243 protesters who have been arrested since protests began, Russia's RIA Novosti reported.

The BBC said protesters have also partially dismantled barricades in central Kiev.

"This is the first step towards settling the political crisis and signals that the Ukrainian opposition seeks a peaceful agreement," Volodymyr Makeyenko, the head of the Kiev city state administration, was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Civil unrest erupted in Ukraine in November when President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned plans to sign a sweeping association agreement with the European Union. Instead, Yanukovych strengthened ties with Russia.

Yanukovych passed an amnesty bill for jailed protesters earlier this month and agreed to negotiate with the opposition after four protesters were killed at violent demonstrations in Kiev.

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