KIEV, December 11 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian opposition leaders on Wednesday rejected talks proposed by the government in a bid to resolve the current political crisis.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his three predecessors – Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko – decided earlier this week to hold a national round table involving representatives from both the authorities and the opposition to seek compromises in the current political standoff.
“There will be no round tables with them [the government], only immediate resignation of Yanukovych and his allies!” said jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a longstanding foe of the current president whom he just barely defeated in the 2010 vote.
She also requested the “global democratic community” to impose financial and visa sanctions on the country’s incumbent leadership.
Similar demands were voiced by another opposition leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, who heads the nationalist Svoboda party.
“The opposition’s demands remain unchanged: the government must resign, and all those guilty of beating up peaceful protestors must be brought to justice. The political leadership must undergo a complete overhaul,” he said.
Later in the day, Yanukovych invited all political, public and spiritual leaders to join the round table without any preconditions.
“Personally, I’m ready to take part in such a round table. For the sake of reaching a compromise, I call on the opposition to stop rejecting [the talks], to withdraw from a path of confrontations and ultimatums,” he said.
Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for exceeding her authority by signing a 2009 gas deal with Russia. Her release was an EU precondition for Kiev to be able to sign the free-trade and association agreements with the EU.
But laws to enable her to leave for medical treatment in Germany were thrown out by Ukraine’s parliament shortly before the planned signing of the deals.
The government’s announcement late last month that it would postpone the signing of the agreements in favor of strengthening ties with Moscow triggered ongoing street protests in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities.
Recasts headline, lead, updates with response from Yanukovych, Tyahnybok