Ukraine’s president, opposition agree to a truce
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 20, 2014
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders agreed to a truce following a meeting which focused on how to end the crisis in Ukraine peacefully, the president’s press office confirmed.
“Following the meeting, the parties announced: 1. Truce 2. The start of negotiations to end the bloodshed, to stabilize the situation in the country, for the sake of civil peace,” the press office stated.
The president met with the leader of the nationalist Svoboda opposition party, Oleg Tyagnibok, Batkivshchyna opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and UDAR party leader Vitaly Klitschko.
Earlier, Batkivshchyna opposition party leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced the same thing, according to the party’s press office. He stressed that the government was planning to declare state of emergency and a night assault on Independence Square, which has now been canceled.
“The planned assault and clearing off protesters is canceled. A truce has been declared and talks will start to stabilize the situation,” Yatsenyuk said.
At least 26 people, including 10 police officers, have been killed and some 800 injured since the start of violent riots in Kiev on Tuesday. The most recent, deadliest wave of violence in Ukraine started with an attempt by radical protesters to storm the building of the Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada), which prompted fierce clashes with police. Several buildings in central Kiev, including the office of the Party of Regions, were stormed, looted, and set on fire.
Footage from Tuesday’s clashes showed masked rioters firing pistols and rifles from behind the barricades and ramming police cordons with trucks. Reports from the scene claimed that both police officers and rioters were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. The Kiev health department said that 19 of the victims were shot by live ammunition. Dozens more police officers received serious wounds, with officials noting that many of them were shot in the head or neck with “sniper-like precision.”