Ukraine's Yanukovich Agrees to Scrap Anti-Protest Laws
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich agreed to repeal some of the harsh anti-protest laws put in place by his government.
"There was a political decision to abolish the January 16 laws that have caused so much discussion," a statement on the presidential website read.
The agreement was followed by a phone call by Biden, who urged Yanukovich to pull back riot police and work with the opposition on to de-escalate tensions between the government and protesters.
Biden also warned that "declaring a state of emergency or enacting other harsh security measures would further inflame the situation and close the space for a peaceful resolution," according to a White House statement.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara had already denied reports on Monday that the government would declare a state of emergency. “Today, this measure is not on the table,” he said.
Yanukovich met at a special session in parliament with the three main opposition leaders – former economy minister Arseny Yastenyuk, former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, and nationalist Oleg Tyagnybok. As part of the agreement, the president stipulated that jailed protesters would be released only if barricades are taken down and seized premises vacated.
“It doesn't seem very likely that the protest movement will be able to meet the condition of vacating premises because the leaders of the opposition don't really control the protesters,” FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reported from Kiev. “Protesters have repeatedly carried out actions that the leaders warned against,” he said.
Radical protesters earlier on Monday agreed to leave the premises of the justice ministry building they stormed on Sunday evening, but protesters still remain camped out in Kiev's city hall, the capital's trade unions building and various regional administration buildings across the country.
The crisis is expected to dominate EU-Russia talks on Tuesday, when Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Brussels, after which the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, will travel to Kiev in a diplomatic effort reflecting growing international concern.
The protests began in November as a drive for EU integration after Yanukovich ditched a key deal with the bloc following pressure from Russia, but the movement has since turned into a drive to unseat the president.