Ukraine's president accuses opposition of 'increasing tensions'

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Ukraine's president accuses opposition of 'increasing tensions'

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Ukraine’s President has accused the opposition of increasing tensions after parliament backed an amnesty for detained anti-government activists.

In a statement Viktor Yanukovych also said the authorities have “fulfilled all obligations”.

It follows a vow by opposition supporters to continue their protest in the Ukraine capital despite temperatures spiralling sharply downwards.

One demonstrator said: “Look, I’ve no jacket on. Cold temperatures don’t frighten us. Let it frighten riot police who remain in Mariinskiy Park. The colder it is, the better for us.”

The opposition claims the president hurried parliament to herd MPs into voting for a partial amnesty in order to stop activists occupying government buildings in Kyiv and elsewhere.

The amnesty bill passed late on Wednesday but it has done little to ease tensions which increased after the prime minister’s resignation earlier this week.

Things appear to be getting worse following the president’s decision to go on sick leave with an acute respiratory ailment, although he did meet the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton on Wednesday.

Some opposition figures say they suspect Yanukovych, 63, might be simply giving himself breathing space after being forced into concessions to try to end the protests.