A peace deal has been reached between some members of the Ukrainian opposition and Viktor Yanukovich, who has been president of Ukraine since 2012, after a violent crackdown on protests in Kiev’s Independence Square left more than 100 dead and many more injured.
Ukraine Peace deal would require special elections this year
The agreement would restore Ukraine’s 2004 constitution, returning many current presidential powers to parliament, reports Sergei Loiko for The Los Angeles Times. It also calls for new presidential elections to be held by the end of this year and an independent investigation into the deaths of protestors overseen both by opposition groups and by the Council of Europe. Protestors would be granted blanket immunity for their actions but would also be required to turn over all weapons within 24 hours of the parliament passing the laws agreed on in the deal.
“In these tragic days when Ukraine suffered such heavy losses, when people died on both sides of the barricades, I consider it my duty in solemn memory of the slain to state that there is nothing more important than human life,” said Yanukovich on his website after the deal was signed. “There are no such steps which we ought not to take together to restore peace in Ukraine.”
The peace deal was signed at the Presidential Administration building between the president and leaders of the opposition in parliament: Vitali Klitschko, Oleg Tyagnibok and Arseny Yatsenyuk. The Ukrainian parliament has already endorsed the deal and fired Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, who many blame for the deaths and the level of violence surrounding the protests. Additionally, 17 members of parliament have said that they are leaving Yanukovich’s party, the Party of Regions which currently has 204 out of 450 seats.
Protestors skeptical of the Ukraine peace deal
Even though the parliamentary opposition is in favor of the peace deal, that doesn’t mean the protestors will accept it. Already, many people in Ukraine are calling for Yanukovich to step down immediately, saying that he can’t be trusted or allowed to remain in power any longer. Many of them must be wondering what Yanukovich could pull off if he is allowed to keep his office for another nine or ten months, and whether the promised elections would actually happen.
“Very many protesters, if not a majority, are demanding Yanukovich step down immediately. They are driven by vengeance and euphoria of victory and it will be very difficult to persuade them to accept that compromise,” Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Ukraine think tank Penta Applied Political Research Center, told the Los Angeles Times.