Yanukovych says foreigners involved in radical actions in Kiev
Foreign citizens, who have taken part in combat actions abroad, are involved in the radical action in Kiev, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said on Friday.
"It is not just Ukrainians who joined (the radical action) but also people from other countries who had taken part in various regional combat actions and who are now wanted internationally. All of them are hiding out in occupied buildings. We know there are weapons there," Yanukovych said during a meeting with representatives of non-government and religious organizations.
Security forces acting lawfully
The Ukrainian police and security forces have acted lawfully in opposing protesters, and it is the radical actions of demonstrators that have made the authorities act in a tough way, the Ukrainian President said.
"All these actions are prompting the authorities to rtespond in a certain way today in order to stop this process. The law enforcement agencies are working within the framework of their powers and the law, which imposes some obligations on them," Yanukovych said.
The authorities are determined "to negotiate and look for compromise," he said. Yanukovych said he was alarmed by the fact that the protest movement has split into peaceful and radical parts and, concerned about the fact that the behaviour of some radical protesters could pose a danger.
"The peaceful Maidan [the protest movement] should be separated from the radical Maidan, which poses a danger to all peaceful citizens," he said.
The president described the seizure of administrative buildings by the opposition and the storage of weapons there as a serious offence.
"This is a gross violation of Ukrainian law, it is fraught with danger," he said.
Yanukovych said he will insist on finding a compromise, liberating the buildings seized by protesters, and stopping the radical activity.
"Should the conflict be continued? The ministries and administrations seized? Everything ruined, and Ukraine itself ruined, too?" Yanukovych exclaimed rhetorically.
He regretted that the most radical protesters fail to hear the opposition leaders. Yanukovych claimed also that members of radical groups and criminal bosses from other countries have attempted to enter Ukraine but were stopped.
"There are a lot of people to whom we have denied entry at the border. Radical and criminal bosses were coming in," he said.
All detainees who commited no serious crimes to be given amnesty
All the participants in protest rallies in central Kiev detained will be released if they have not committed serious crimes, said the Ukrainian President. "We agreed yesterday that, after the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) passes the amnesty bill, all those people, who were detained but have committed no serious crimes, will all be given amnesty" Yanukovych said.
Legislation passed by the Rada on Jan 16 to be amended
The bills passed by the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada on January 16, which President Viktor Yanukovych has already signed into law, will be amended, President said.
"Our experts will analyze these issues, and we will prepare and compromise solutions together with the opposition. We will vote for amending these laws and so will settle all issues," Yanukovych said. "We will come to the parliament together with the opposition and vote," he said. The parliamentary majority passed a package of bills on January 16, which many view as cracking down on fundamental democratic freedoms in Ukraine.
The opposition claims that the rules of procedure were violated in passing the legislation. In particular, some of the bills tighten liability for unsanctioned public actions and blockage of government buildings and institutions, and also introduce the concept of non-governmental organizations acting as foreign agents.
The bills have drawn strong criticism from the opposition and a number of Western countries and are believed to have served as the primary cause of the ongoing protests by radical opposition activists in the center of Kiev, which have continued since January 19.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych vows that he will continue dialogue with the opposition leaders to stop violence in the country.
"I will host an anti-crisis center session now. There has been contact, and we will continue a dialogue with the opposition leaders," Yanukovych said at a meeting which heads of churches and religious organizations on Friday.
"I will be doing all I can to stop this conflict and stop violence," Yanukovych said. "If we can do this on a good note, let's leave it on a good note, and if we can't, we'll use all legitimate methods," he said.
The Ukrainian government will be rearranged at an extraordinary parliamentary session on January 28, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said. "We will make a decision at this session.
The president will sign a decree, and we will re-format the government so as to find an optimal version of the government's professional lineup that would work for Ukrainian society," Yanukovych said at a meeting with the heads of churches and religious organizations on Friday.
Ukraine will not reject assistance from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) if such assistance is offered, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said.
Asked by European journalists in Davos on Friday what problems he would like to discuss with Swiss President and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter, Azarov said, "This meeting is extremely important to me. First, we know Switzerland's balanced and realistic position. Swiss statesmen have not made statements that could be viewed as a one-sided position. Switzerland is a neutral country, and it is currently holding the presidency of such a world organization as the OSCE. And the OSCE chairperson's assistance in resolving this conflict is extremely important," he said.
Azarov said he wanted to inform the president of Switzerland about the real situation in Ukraine. Azarov's meeting with Burkhalter took place in Davos on Friday afternoon, an Interfax correspondent reported.
Vitaly Klitschko, the leader of the Ukrainian opposition party Udar, believes mechanisms to overcome the political crisis in Ukraine can be discussed only through the mediation of the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE).
"Any discussions on how to settle the crisis in Ukraine should be held through the engagement of high-level international mediators. [President Viktor] Yanukovych doesn't want to admit that all the events going on today in the country have resulted from the fact that the people have risen up against his rule," the UDAR party press service quoted Klitschko as saying.
Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov has said at news conference that Moscow urges the EU not to interfere in the situation in Ukraine, much less threaten with sanctions.
According to the official, those who care about stability in a situation like this should realize that they should never interfere, let alone threaten with sanctions, but should instead provide political support for such countries, not to mention financial aid which the EU could, but decided not to render.
The agreed cessation of hostilities in Kiev is at risk. The protesters are building barricades in downtown Kiev despite the recently made decision to look for ways to settle the crisis in the next day or two. The agreement was reached following four-hour talks between Ukraine's President Victor Yanukovych and the opposition leaders.
President Viktor Yanukovych proposed to free detained protesters in return for a temporary cease-fire but amid deep uncertainty that antigovernment demonstrators would accept the tentative deal.
"The sides discussed the need to immediately vacate illegally seized buildings, a possible amnesty campaign and other issues that may be debated during a special [parliamentary] session, which won approval from the participants in the talks," Ukrainian Justice Minister Olena Lukash, who is also a member of the group looking for a solution to the current political crisis in Ukraine, said in a statement, published on the president's website.
Protesters began erecting fresh barricades around their camp in central Kiev in the early hours of Friday after heckling opposition leaders who emerged from a four-hour meeting with the Ukrainian leader with a potential compromise aimed at halting violent clashes with police.
Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the party "UDAR" (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms), when speaking before opposition supporters who gathered in Independence Square here early Friday, called for a "general strike".
"Today's authorities have got to face a general strike! If we stick together, it will be impossible to defeat us. We shall live in a new Ukraine already this year," the oppositionist declared.
Klitschko's speech was accompanied with calls "to launch an attack" and "go only forward".
Opposition leaders continue to addresss those present, telling them about the outcome of talks with President Viktor Yanukovych. Their speeches are interrupted by protesters' shouts and whistling.
During the second round of talks with the opposition, President Viktor Yanukovych has proposed to stop the use of force and ensure to release those detained during the riots, and to soften a preventive measure if the protesters on Grushevskoho street disperse.
Opposition leaders announced that only after "public consultation" they would tell whether they accept these conditions.
The leader of the nationalist party Svoboda Oleg Tyahnibok forwarded the message to those gathered on Independence Square and asked whether they accept it, but the majority voted against, states the Svoboda website.
Opposition leaders agreed with the decision to stay gathered on the street, but required to maintain discipline and order.
Yatsenyuk said that the opposition would continue to negotiate with the government, "in order to achieve real results."
Tyahnibok said earlier that the negotiations would continue on Friday morning.
In addition, Yatsenyuk announced the decision "to expand the territory down to Instytutskaya and Olginskaya street."
Ukrainian Justice Minister Yelena Lukash said earlier the talks would continue Friday or Saturday. She, too, took part in the four-hours-long meeting between President Viktor Yanukovych and the oppositionists - Vitaly Klitschko, the former parliament speaker Arseny Yatsenyuk, and the leader of the far-right nationalistic Svoboda party, Oleg Tyagnybok.
Other officials present at the conference table were Andrei Kliuyev, the Secretary of the National Security Council, and Andrei Portnov, a presidential adviser.
Lukash said that the opposition leaders had once again refused to denounce the actions of extremists or the seizures of buildings of regional and local agencies of power committed by agitated crowds in a number of western and central regions of the country on Thursday.
Nor did the leading oppositionists give a clear answer to whether or not they were going - or were able - to take control of the haphazard course of events unfolding in Kiev.