Ukrainian president signs amnesty bill

Kiev, Feb 1: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych Friday signed into law a bill that grants amnesty to all detained protesters and approved the repeal of controversial legislation that has fuelled the mass riots in Ukraine.

Yanukovych signed the bill into force despite being on sick leave over acute respiratory disease Thursday, Xinhua reported.

The amnesty law envisages that the police would free all protesters arrested during demonstrations since Nov 21, on condition that they abandon the buildings they have seized within 15 days.

The opposition leaders have earlier rejected the amnesty law, because of the conditional terms.

However, opposition welcomed the repeal of the laws, which impose ban on unauthorised tents in public areas, prohibit wearing of masks and helmets during public assembly, and allow a jail term of up to five years for those who block public buildings.

The amnesty bill and the scrap of controversial legislation are part of the series of concessions from Yanukovych to opposition aimed at ending the two-month protests, which left at least four people dead and hundreds others, including police officers, injured.

Protests in Ukraine, which began last November to back the country’s European integration, turned violent Jan 19, when radical activists attacked riot police with fireworks and petrol bombs.

During the two-weeks or so unrest, 234 people were detained, 140 of them were arrested.