Ukrainian president, opposition sign deal to end crisis

Kiev, Feb 22: The Ukrainian president and opposition leaders signed an agreement Friday to end the country’s nearly four month-long political crisis which has left 77 people dead and hundreds injured.

The deal includes provisions for constitutional changes that would limit presidential power, and for holding early presidential elections in December 2014, Xinhua quoted parliamentary leader of the ruling Party of Regions Alexandr Efremov as saying.

The agreement follows overnight meetings involving President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders along with the foreign ministers of Poland, France and Germany, and the chairman of Russia’s Human Rights Commission.

Yanukovch made concessions to the opposition to avoid further bloodshed and casualties among the demonstrators and police officers.

Ukraine’s anti-government rallies turned violent Tuesday, when protesters attacked police with Molotov cocktails and set fires outside the parliament. The police responded with stun grenades and water cannons.

Protests in Ukraine began in November after Yanukovych shelved a trade and economic agreement with the EU and turned instead to Russia for $15 billion bailout.

IANS