Ukrainian president calls truce with opposition

Kiev, Feb 20: Amid mounting global pressure on his government to end violence, an embattled Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych agreed Thursday to hold talks with the opposition after at least 26 people were killed this week.

“Negotiations” would now begin to bring an end to the bloodshed of the last two days, BBC quoted the president as saying in a statement posted on the presidential website.

Arseniy Yatsenyk, an opposition leader, confirmed the development, saying there would be no new police attempts to storm the main protest site — the Maidan — in Kiev, the capital city.

Though fires were still burning around the Maidan in the capital, but no violence was reported.

Most of the victims died during the clashes near the parliament building in the capital and later police attempts to clear the Maidan Tuesday — turning it the bloodiest day since the unrest erupted in late November.

The truce announcement came late Wednesday as Yanukovych met members of a crisis group, including Ukraine’s three main opposition leaders, the parliamentary speaker and top officials from the presidential administration.

In a separate development, President Yanukovych sacked armed forces head Col. Gen. Volodymyr Zamana. Navy Commander Adm Yuriy Ilyin replaced him.

IANS