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Yanukovich suggests milder sanctions against protesters

January 25, 2014, 23:24 UTC+3 KIEV

Opposition leaders were told to immediately lead all people from central streets of Kiev and stop all unlawful actions

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KIEV, January 25, 22:41 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich asked the prosecutor general to suggest to courts that they change sanctions against protesters to milder ones that do not require their detention, first deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration Andrei Portnov said on Saturday, January 25.

In return, opposition leaders were told to immediately lead all people from central streets of Kiev and stop all unlawful actions.

The meeting between the president and the opposition leaders continued for more than three hours.

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 opposition leaders suggested passing a law on amnesty for all protesters since the beginning of the crisis in the country. “The president of Ukraine agreed with this proposal, and we think that it could be supported by the majority of factions [in parliament], provided all seized premises in all parts of the country, including in Independence Square, were vacated,” Portnov said.

The opposition also suggested discussing a political decision that would invoke the Constitution of 2004. “The sides discussed technical aspects of this issue. Since Oleg Tyagnibok has his own proposals on that score and the other leaders have their own ones, we decided that we can set up a joint group and ask it to work on constitutional amendments either through parliament or through a nationwide referendum,” Portnov said.

The sides also discussed possible changes to the laws adopted on January 16. “We are prepared to amend these laws and will work together with our political opponents to achieve a compromise on these laws and amendments to the laws with regard to which we will come to political consensus,” the presidential administration official said.

The sides agreed to form the Central Election Commission on a proportional basis according to the size of factions in the parliament. They also agreed that the squares and streets of Kiev will gradually be left by both the protesters and law enforcers.

Yanukovich offered top positions in the government to opposition leaders at their meeting on Saturday evening. Yatsenyuk was offered the post of prime minister and Klitschko the post of deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs.

If Yatsenyuk agrees to take up the job, “the president of Ukraine will make the decision to dismiss the government,” the presidential press service quoted the justice minister as saying.

Yanukovich did not rule out earlier this week that he might “reformat” the government at an urgent session of the parliament to be held on January 28.

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.

Mass clashes between demonstrators and police started in Kiev on Sunday, January 19, following the adoption of new laws that ban rallies and prohibit all form of public protests, unauthorised installation of tents, stages or use of loudspeakers in public. They subsequently spread over to other regions of Ukraine where protesters were reported storming and seizing the buildings of regional administrations.

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