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Ukraine: Signature of “Temporary” Accord to Halt Hecatomb

Translated Sunday 2 March 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

A “temporary” accord was signed on Feb. 21 in Kiev, the fruit of many hours of negotiations between the opposition and the government. It provides for elections soon, the formation of a transition government, and a constitutional reform.

However, it is not certain that this temporary accord will suffice to calm the 20,000 protesters who are again entrenched in Maïdan. Many of them are demanding, together with Iulia Timoshenko, that “the immediate sidelining of Ianukovich and the filing of a criminal case against him for the murder of masses of civilians be the sole demand of the people, the opposition and the international community.” Ianukovich’s departure, pure and simple, is not part of the accord.

Signed between president Viktor Ianukovich and the opposition leaders, in the presence of European mediators, this accord provides for an early presidential election in December, the formation of a coalition government by March 3, and a constitutional reform by Feb. 23. The Ukrainian parliament met on Feb. 21 to try to vote a constitutional reform reducing the president’s powers. A bill was being prepared at mid-morning. The signatory for the opposition is “the Council of Maïdan,” whose name is taken from the square in the center of Kiev that demonstrators have occupied for the past three months. The name is theoretically an umbrella for all the opposition tendencies, including the political parties, representatives of civil society, and radical groups.

On the ground, Maïdan square is still completely controlled by demonstrators, who are still busy consolidating their barricades and building up stocks of paving stones and molotov cocktails. The policemen have shifted their positions several hundred meters back. According to the Agence France Presse, 20,000 demonstrators were busy in the square late in the morning. The deputy head of the general staff of the Ukrainian army, Yuri Dumanski, announced his resignation on Feb. 21 to protest against attempts to involve the army in the conflict, following the unprecedented and murderous violence in downtown Kiev.

The toll of the clashes between demonstrators and policemen, who fired live ammunition, has risen to 77 dead since Feb. 18, according to a report by the Health Ministry, while 577 people were injured, 369 of whom were hospitalized.

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