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KIEV, February 03, 0:55 /ITAR-TASS/. The Ukrainian authorities have fulfilled their part of agreements with the opposition regarding an amnesty for detained participants of mass protests in the country, an MP from the ruling Party of Regions said.
“Today saw the start of a countdown of the period envisioned by the amnesty law for radicals to vacate the seized buildings of state power and local self-government in exchange for immunity from prosecution,” Vitaly Zhuravsky said in an interview with Itar-Tass on Sunday.
Protesters have held anti-government rallies that have often turned into violent clashes with police in Ukraine since the country refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union at a summit in Vilnius in November 2013 and opted for closer ties with Russia instead.
Parliament’s decision to pass a set of laws toughening punishment for public order violations on January 16 triggered a second wave of demonstrations in Ukraine, with protesters seizing government buildings. Three protesters are believed to have been killed, and up to 200 policemen injured. The authorities later repealed the laws.
Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov has resigned, and the Ukrainian authorities also decided to pardon participants of riots on condition that protesters vacate state and local power institutions they seized in Kiev and other regions within 15 days. Opposition leaders reacted defiantly and with skepticism to the amnesty law that came into force on Sunday.
Zhuravsky said: “The laws adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on January 16 have been repealed. The amnesty law has come into force, so the law violators have 15 days to prove their adherence to compromise and stop escalation of violence. They must vacate the seized buildings of regional state administrations and local self-government bodies.”
The parliamentarian also told Itar-Tass that the Ukrainian authorities used the Munich Security Conference that ended on Sunday in the Bavarian capital to call on foreign sponsors of the Ukrainian opposition to render influence on the radical part of protesters.
“Foreign politicians who are actively calling to stop violence have an opportunity to contribute to easing tensions through convincing opposition figures that it is expedient to fulfill the conditions of the amnesty,” Zhuravsky said.
The amnesty law, designed in particular to “prevent prosecution and punishment of people in connection with events that took place during peaceful rallies,” envisions a pardon for all people who took part in riots during mass anti-government demonstrations in Ukraine except for those who committed grave crimes.
It introduces a mechanism to release riot participants from criminal prosecution and ensure unhindered operation of state and local power bodies. Protesters must vacate seized state and local power institutions, unblock Grushevskogo Street in downtown Kiev and other streets and squares across the country except those where peaceful protest rallies are being held.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, 234 people have been detained in Ukraine since November 2013 for participation in anti-government protests, with 140 of them arrested.