Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych Abandons Kiev; Opposition And Protesters Take Control Of The City

 @SnehaShankar30 on February 22 2014 10:20 AM
  • Kiev On Saturday
    Anti-government protesters guard a street leading to the presidential administration building in Kiev on Feb.22, 2014. Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili
  • Kiev on Saturday
    Anti-government protesters guard the entrance to the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kiev on Feb.22, 2014. Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko
  • Kiev being guarded
    Anti-government protesters guard the entrance to the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kiev on Feb.22, 2014. Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko
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According to news reports, the opposition has taken full control over the government districts in Kiev, Ukraine, with the President Viktor Yanukovych’s whereabouts unclear. Reports also suggest that the parliamentary speaker has resigned for health reasons.

After calling for truce on Friday and agreeing to hold elections by the end of the year with the opposition, Yanukovych’s pact did not seem to make the protesters very happy as they were still on the streets till the next day. News reports claimed that the presidential offices remain unguarded in Kiev, with opposition and the protesters in full control. On Saturday, opposition leaders and protesters continued to call for Yanukovych's immediate resignation.

According to Associated Press, President Yanukovych arrived overnight in the city of Karkiv, which remains one of the major areas of his support, Henna Herman, a close ally for Yanukovych said.

In the absence of the president in Kiev, the opposition leader has called for elections on May 25 in the Parliament, according to BBC.

Ukraine’s interior ministry has also asked the public to ensure order along with the police and says that it shares a desire for change, according to Reuters.

Ukrainian opposition leaders had signed a deal with Yanukovych on Friday, which was mediated by the European Union, providing for an early presidential election and to reduce presidential powers though constitutional reforms. The call for early elections was denounced by Russia on the same day.

The issue in Ukraine started three months ago when EU officials and Yanukovych were going to sign a trade and cooperation agreement with Brussels for bailout. The EU made a few conditions, including the release of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. But Yanukovych signed the agreement for $15 billion bailout with Russia, which led to protests on the streets. It took an ugly turn last Sunday, as police troops attacked protesters overnight leading to deadly clashes.

Since Sunday, more than 77 people have been killed and more than 500 injured in battles between the police and protesters. The EU also imposed sanctions on Friday, freezing the assets of Ukrainian officials responsible for the violence in the city that has continued all week.

"There is widespread horror in the European Union as well as in the United Kingdom at the scale of the loss of innocent life and the events of the last 48 hours," UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said, explaining why EU decided to impose sanctions, according to the BBC.

While Western nations have reached out to support the opposition and the protesters, countries like Russia and China have asked the West to let Ukraine continue its business in its own way.

"The (Ukrainian) opposition cannot or do not want to distance itself from extremists. The West led by Europe and the United States (should) assume all responsibility for the Ukraine situation. They do not blame the extremists' acts, while threaten to impose sanctions. These are double standards," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said on Friday expressing fears that the sanctions will encourage rioters, according to Xinhua news agency in China.

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