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Ukraine opposition leaders seek more government concessions after refusing top jobs


Ukraine

Ukraine opposition leaders seek more government concessions after refusing top jobs

One of Ukraine’s opposition leaders has described the president’s offer of a key government post as a “poisoned” attempt to kill off the protest movement.

There was a pause in the demonstrations in central Kyiv to allow ceremonies to be held for two protesters shot dead last week.

One saw the funeral of a young Belarussian man who lived in Ukraine and according to friends would have been 26 on Sunday.

Viktor Yanukovych offered senior opposition figures the roles of prime minister and deputy prime minister but leaders said they would press for more concessions.

Hoping to end protests that threaten to bring the country to a standstill, Yanukovych on Saturday offered former economy minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk the post of prime minister.

Vitaly Klitschko, a former international boxing champion, was offered the post of deputy prime minister responsible for humanitarian issues, the presidential website said.

The president has also hinted at changes to new anti-protest laws, but the opposition wants early presidential elections, political prisoners released and a free trade agreement with the EU.

Yanukovych abruptly abandoned plans to sign political association and free trade deals with the EU in November, pledging instead to improve ties with former Soviet master Russia and angering millions who dream of being in the EU.

Both sides are now looking ahead to a special parliamentary session on Tuesday, which one opposition leader said could be decisive.

Meanwhile demonstrators have been clearing up a government hall in central Kyiv after violence erupted earlier.

A large crowd attacked the hall after an estimated 200 police officers were seen entering it.

One protester said the building belonged to the Ukrainian people, not “corrupt authorities”.

Demonstrators later claimed to have found bullets left by police, which the government denied.

Saturday saw anti-government protests continue to spread to other cities outside the capital.

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