Limited amnesty for Euromaidan protesters

The Ukrainian parliament passed legislation that seems to grant limited amnesty to Euromaidan protesters who vacate occupied local government buildings.
Posted By JC Finley  |  Jan. 29, 2014 at 9:39 PM
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KIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, passed an amnesty bill Wednesday to "prevent persecution and punishment" of Euromaidan protesters who vacate occupied local government buildings.

232 lawmakers out of the 416 present voted in favor of the measure.

Although the text of the bill was not yet publicly available as of press time, the legislation's author told reporters that amnesty will not be granted to all arrested protesters. Regions Party faction member Yuriy Miroshnychenko said that the bill only applies to those who vacate occupied local government buildings. Amnesty, the author said, will not be applied to protesters arrested in Maidan Nezalezhnosti -- otherwise known as Independence Square, and a central rallying point -- or those occupying the House of Trade Unions buildings, Zhovtnevy Palace, or Khreschatyk Street.

Miroshnychenko told reporters "This bill will be in effect within 15 days."

Prior to the amnesty bill's passage, opposition leader and Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party member Vitali Klitschko refuted the utility of such a bill, stating "Withdrawal of charges and amnesty is not enough."

Parliament voted on the amnesty bill during a second consecutive emergency session. On Tuesday, the parliament voted to repeal unpopular anti-protest laws.

Demonstrations began in November 2013 following President Viktor Yanukovych's announcement that Ukraine would not join the EU and have continued for months, despite the freezing temperatures and threat of violence. Protesters at Euromaidan rallies, led by the government opposition parties, have voiced their opposition to Ukraine's economic ties to Russia and have demanded the removal of the president.

Opposition leader Klitschko wrote on his party's website that President Yanukovych's resignation would be "a logical step."

[Interfax Ukraine News Agency] [CNN]

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