Ukrainian opposition rejects president's offer of leadership positions

The Ukrainian opposition rejected President Viktor Yanukovych's proposal that two opposition leaders assume the prime minister and deputy prime minister positions, calling instead for government responsiveness to protester demands and early presidential elections.
Posted By JC Finley  |  Jan. 26, 2014 at 8:48 AM
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President Viktor Yanukovych, in an attempt to end a violent stand-off with demonstrators on Saturday, offered senior government positions to the opposition, proposing that Arseniy Yatsenyuk assume the position of prime minister and former pro-boxer Vitali Klitschko the position of deputy prime minister position.

Yatsenyuk announced via Twitter on Saturday that the opposition was rejecting the president's proposal.

Opposition leaders rallied demonstrators Saturday, asking "What is our response to this?" and answering "We are not afraid of the responsibility for the destiny of Ukraine." The opposition said it is committed to seeking early presidential elections and the nullification of anti-democratic legislation signed into law on January 16.

Yatsenyuk urged the government Saturday to reconsider signing onto a free trade agreement with the European Union, the catalyst for the demonstrations that began in November, and the release of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Demonstrators and security forces continued to clash Saturday.

"Euro Maidan" protests began in November 2013 following Yanukovych's announcement that Ukraine would not join the EU. Pro-EU rallies, led by the government opposition, have continued since November, with protesters voicing opposition to Ukraine's economic ties to Russia and demanding the removal of the government.

Violence escalated last week when three protesters were killed and more than 1,700 people injured between January 20 and January 22. Two of the protesters were shot to death, allegedly by police. A third person's body, reportedly bearing signs of torture, was found in a forest outside Kiev. That activist was believed to have been abducted days earlier.

Following the violence, the government offered concessions that included amending the January 16 anti-democratic legislation and convening a special parliamentary sessions. The opposition views Tuesday's assembly as a "judgement day" that will be determined by the government's actions.

[BBC] [Kyiv Post] [New York Times]

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