February 21

Deal would overhaul Ukrainian government, constitution

Despite the agreement, protesters angry over police violence show no signs of abandoning their encampment in the capital.

By Maria Danilova And Yuras Karmanau
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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A priest is overcome with emotions as he holds a memorial service for protesters killed during clashes with the police, in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, on Friday.

The Associated Press

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A fire burns at the barricades on the outskirts of Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday. Ukraine’s presidency said Friday that it has negotiated an international deal intended to end battles between police and protesters that have killed scores and injured hundreds.

The Associated Press

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“Resign! Resign! Resign!” they chanted.

“The Maidan will stand up until Yanukovych leaves,” said protester Anataly Shevchuk, 29. “That’s the main demand, both for those who were killed, and for those who are still standing on the Maidan.”

“I hope that the direction of the country changes, but so far the goals of the Maidan have not been achieved,” said Kira Rushnitskaya, a 45-year-old protester. “Yanukovych agreed to give up powers to stay in power overall.”

No deadline for leaving the camp in central Kiev has been set and many protesters are likely to move out slowly, both because of the emotional closeness the camp fostered and because of distrust that the deal will actually be implemented.

The capital remained tense Friday. Shots were heard in the morning, a day after the deadliest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history. It is unclear who was targeted and whether anyone was hurt or injured.

The leader of a radical group that has been a driver of violent clashes with police, Pravy Sektor, declared Friday “the national revolution will continue,” according to the Interfax news agency.

The deal has other detractors too.

Leonid Slutsky, a Russian lawmaker who chairs the committee in charge of relations with other ex-Soviet nations, told reporters Friday that the agreement serves the interests of the West.

“We realize where and by whom this agreement has been written. It’s entirely in the interests of the United States and other powers, who want to split Ukraine from Russia,” he said.

At the same time, Slutsky shrugged off claims that Russia could send its troops to Ukraine, saying Moscow will communicate with any government Ukraine has.

“No matter how bad and hard to deal with the new government is for us, we will deal with it,” he said. “We must learn from mistakes we have made.”

Protesters across the country are upset over corruption in Ukraine, the lack of democratic rights and the country’s ailing economy, which just barely avoided bankruptcy with the first disbursement of a $15 billion bailout promised by Russia.

Friday’s agreement does not address the grievance that set off the protests in the first place – Yanukovych’s shelving of an agreement to deepen ties with the European Union and his turn toward Russia for financial assistance.

The avid desire of many Ukrainians to step out of Russia’s long shadow and become more integrated with the West remains a serious, unresolved issue for Ukraine.

Adding to Ukraine’s dire economic troubles worse. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ukraine’s debt rating Friday, saying the country could default without significant political improvements.

Jim Heintz, Efrem Lukatsky, Yuri Uvarov and Angela Charlton in Kiev, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

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Additional Photos

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Opposition lawmaker Andriy Parubiy, right, tries to convince protesters to free a group of policemen, captured Thursday in Kiev. The policemen were eventually set free on Friday.

The Associated Press

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Anti-government protesters shout “Glory to the Ukraine” as they man a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev on Friday.

The Associated Press

 


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