Saturday 24 March 2018

Rival freed in agreement that could shape future of country

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Reuters
Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Reuters

Jim Heintz

Out of the ashes of Kiev a deal aimed to reshape Ukraine's political destiny was fashioned. It allows for a new government and an early election, and reduced powers for parliament.

President Viktor Yanukovych even voted to free his rival, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, right, from prison. But the problem for many could be the fact that Mr Yanukovych is still in place. Ms Tymoshenko, narrowly lost the 2010 election to Mr Yanukovych. If the deal holds, it could be a major breakthrough in a months-long crisis over Ukraine's identity.

It's unclear, however, how well the sweeping, European-mediated deal would go down with all sides. A Russian mediator refused to sign the deal, and a senior Russian lawmaker criticised it as being crafted for the West.

And at the sprawling protest encampment in central Kiev, hardened Ukrainian protesters angry over police violence showed no signs of abandoning their positions.

There was even brawling in parliament. The agreement says presidential elections will be held no later than December, instead of March 2015 as scheduled. Many protesters still say December is too late – they want Mr Yanukovych out immediately. The country's western regions want closer EU ties and have rejected Mr Yanukovych's authority, while eastern Ukraine favours closer ties with Russia.

Hours after the deal was signed, parliament voted to restore the 2004 constitution that limits presidential authority, clawing back some of the powers that Mr Yanukovych had pushed through after being elected in 2010. They immediately started to use those new powers.

The Verhovna Rada parliament then voted to fire interior minister, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, who is blamed for ordering police violence, including the snipers who slaughtered so many on Thursday in Kiev.

Irish Independent

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