Ukraine: President, opposition sign crisis deal
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's opposition leaders signed a deal Friday with the president and European and Russian mediators for early elections and a new government in hopes of ending a deadly political crisis.
It could be a breakthrough in a months-long crisis over Ukraine's future and identity that worsened sharply this week and left scores dead in the worst violence in Ukraine's history as an independent nation.
A key question is whether the thousands of protesters camped out in Kiev will heed it. The leader of a radical group that has been a driver of violent clashes with police, Pravy Sektor, said Friday he doesn't believe President Viktor Yanukovych will honor the deal and “the national revolution will continue,” according to the Interfax news agency.
The agreement says presidential elections will be held no later than December, instead of March 2015 as scheduled, according to a copy provided by the German government.
It says Ukrainian authorities will restore within 48 hours a previous constitution that limits presidential powers, then name a coalition government within 10 days.
It also says the government will not impose a state of emergency and both sides will refrain from violence. It says opposition protesters should hand over any weapons and withdraw from buildings they have occupied and protest camps around the country.
The signing came hours after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych made concessions under pressure from European mediators.
Some protesters said talk of early elections in December is not soon enough — they want him out of the presidency immediately.
European foreign ministers had stayed up all night in Kiev trying to negotiate an end to the standoff, prompted when the president aborted a pact with the European Union in November in favor of close ties with Russia instead.
An EU official in Brussels said that if an agreement is signed, Russia and the EU would act as observers to ensure that it is implemented.
The U.S., Russia and European Union are deeply concerned about the future of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West. Shots were heard again Friday near the protesters' camp in Kiev, a day after the deadliest violence in Ukraine's post-Soviet history. It is unclear who was targeted and whether anyone was hurt or injured in Friday's incident.
Protesters across the country are upset over corruption in Ukraine, the lack of democratic rights and the country's ailing economy, which just barely avoided bankruptcy with the first disbursement of a $15 billion bailout promised by Russia.
The violence is making Ukraine's economic troubles worse. Ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Ukraine's debt rating Friday, saying the country will likely default if there are no significant improvements in the political crisis, which it does not expect.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Turks, fleeing Kurds battle as Islamic State besieges town in Iraq
- Shiite, Sunni clashes in Yemeni capital kill 120
- Egyptian President al-Sisi feels vindicated in crackdown as Islamic extremists rise
- Obama, generals part ways on ground war in Iraq
- Islamic State link with well-heeled companies or individuals targeted
- Turkish hostages freed from Islamic State, but questions linger
- NATO chief: Ukraine truce ‘in name only’
- Mementos unearthed at Nazi death camp in Poland
- Pakistan eyeing sea-based and short-range nuclear weapons, analysts say
- Libyan clashes could endanger oil exports
- More Iraq deployments may be needed as terrorist fight intensifies, Army chief says