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Yanukovich, opposition leaders end meeting

January 25, 2014, 21:27 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, January 25, 21:23 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders have just ended their meeting in Kiev.

The meeting continued for more than three hours, but no details were immediately available.

Participating in the meeting were presidential chief of staff Andrei Klyuyev, his first deputy Andrei Portnov, Justice Minister Yelena Lukash, opposition UDAR (Puinch) party leader Vitali Klitschko, Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party leader Arseny Yatsenyuk, and Svoboda (Freedom) party leader Oleg Tyagnibok.

The Batkivshchina press service said the opposition leaders had agreed to hold the talks “at the request of the Council of Churches.”

“All churches of Ukraine have asked us to continue the talks and gave us their blessing,” Yatsenyuk said, adding that the opposition “did and still does everything it can to settle this horrible conflict solely by peaceful means.”

The clergy were said to be heading to Kiev’s Independence Square, the scene of the latest mass protests, to address the demonstrators and ask them to resolve the conflict peacefully.

However Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko said the government’s attempts to “resolve the conflict peacefully without using force have been futile so far.”

“The calls have not been heard and the truce agreements have been broken,” he said in a statement.

The minister noted that “radically-minded MP Oleg Lyashko called for seizing and attacking law enforcers” and “the talks between police and protest leaders and opposition MPs that continued throughout the night failed.”

“They can no longer influence radical groups that control the seized buildings and use force,” Zakharchenko said, adding that firearms were being brought to the buildings of the House of Unions and the Kiev city administration.

“The international community must not turn a blind eye to these events that are highly extremist in nature. Opposition leaders have not distanced themselves from radical forces but can no longer control them and thus put citizens of Ukraine at risk,” the minister said.

The ruling Party of Regions said in a statement earlier this week that the actions taken by opposition leaders in Ukraine were an attempt to seize power.

“The impression is that the peacemaking initiatives of the Party of Regions find no response among opposition leaders who continue to carry out their filthy scenario to seize power. The opposition made the next step towards this long-sought goal by ‘establishing’ a so-called people’s Rada and delegating the legislative functions of the national parliament to it,” the party said. “Having grossly trampled upon the constitutional norms, a bunch of oppositionists not only proclaimed themselves the highest legislative body but also went further in their revolutionary frenzy and assumed the right to amend the Constitution of Ukraine, took over the functions of the Central Election Commission and started forming opposition power bodies at the regional and local levels.”

“No matter how democratic the calls may be and how much opposition representatives refer to the will of the Maidan [protesters] or a new (countless) people’s assembly, such actions get a clear and unequivocal interpretation in international law as an attempted coup. We think it blasphemous and immoral when oppositionists try to use ‘the will of the people’ to cover up for their anti-constitutional labours as if with a fig leaf,” the party said.

“You are very wrong if you think that your extremist orgy is supported by all people in Ukraine. You are very wrong if you hope to legitimise the seizure of legislative power by the approving roar of the Maidan,” the statement said. “None of the reasonable people considers your supporters, armed with iron chains and clubs, fighters for democracy. No matter how hard mass media that serve you try to ‘embellish the picture’, our voters call things by their proper names. They call rampaging roughnecks thugs. They call politicians seeking to proclaim themselves the authorities using unlawful methods impostors,” the party said.

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