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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Ukraine president 'agrees truce' with opposition


Anti-government protesters stand behind burning barricades in Kiev's Independence Square on 19 February 2014. Protesters' barricades continue to burn into the night on Wednesday in Kiev's Independence Square
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych says he has agreed a truce with opposition leaders, after at least 26 people died in protests this week.
A statement on the presidential website said they had agreed to start "negotiations" aimed at ending the bloodshed of the last two days.
They also agreed to try to stabilise "the situation in the state in the interests of social peace".
Earlier today, the president sacked the head of the armed forces.
No reason was given for the dismissal of Col Gen Volodymyr Zamana, who was replaced by the commander of Ukraine's navy, Admiral Yuriy Ilyin, by presidential decree.
The announcement of a truce comes after the most intense violence in Ukraine's three-month crisis turned Kiev into a battle zone between anti-government protesters and riot police.
'Protection of human life' On Tuesday, protesters wielding petrol bombs and paving stones tried to defend their encampment in the central Independence Square from police using rubber bullets and stun grenades.
While the situation was more subdued on Wednesday, there were still periodic clashes and protesters are reported to have seized the central post office.
The state security service earlier announced it was launching a nationwide "anti-terrorist" campaign to deal with a growing "extremist threat".
Several European leaders have condemned the Ukrainian leadership for the violence, with the French, German and Polish foreign ministers due to meet in Kiev on Thursday to assess the situation before an EU meeting in Brussels to decide whether to impose sanctions against Ukraine.
The truce followed talks between President Yanukovych and the three main opposition leaders, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko and far-right party leader Oleh Tyahnybok.
"The storming of the Maidan (Independence Square) which the authorities had planned today will not take place," Mr Yatsenyuk said in a statement on the website of his Fatherland party.
"A truce has been declared. The main thing is to protect human life," he added.
But the BBC's Moscow correspondent, Danial Sandford, has urged caution pointing out that none of the hardcore protesters attended the meeting with President Yanukovych in which the truce was discussed
source:BBC

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