Ukraine president and opposition leaders sign peace deal

BY Bridget Bowman  February 21, 2014 at 10:21 AM EST
Ukraine protesters

Ukraine’s president and opposition leaders signed a deal Friday in the hopes of putting an end to months of unrest and violent protests in the capital of Kiev. Scores of anti-government protesters still unhappy with the proposed plan are calling for President Viktor Yanukovich to step down.

Ukraine’s opposition leaders have reportedly signed a peace deal with President Viktor Yanukovich Friday, following months of protests and recent violence in the capital city of Kiev which left more than 70 people dead.

The Ukrainian president posted the terms of the deal on his website, calling for early presidential elections, a return to the 2004 constitution, and a “procedure of establishing the government of national trust.”

The Associated Press reported further details of the agreement.

“The agreement says presidential elections will be held no later than December, instead of March 2015 as scheduled, according to a copy provided by the German government. It says Ukrainian authorities will restore within 48 hours a previous constitution that limits presidential powers, then name a coalition government within 10 days.”

“It also says the government will not impose a state of emergency and both sides will refrain from violence. It says opposition protesters should hand over any weapons and withdraw from buildings they have occupied and protest camps around the country.”

However, word of the agreement was met with criticism in Kiev’s Independence Square. Kirit Radia of ABC News reported that protesters called for Yanukovich to resign from power immediately, and angrily chanted, “No agreement, only resignation.”

Pravy Sektor, a leader of a radical group, reportedly expressed doubt that Yanukovich would honor the agreement and said, “the national revolution will continue.”

Mediators representing the European Union brokered the deal between the president and opposition leaders as violence in Kiev escalated this week.

While Europe has an economic interest in regional stability, Matthew Rojansky of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars also noted that the benefits of peace in Ukraine extend beyond market incentives and geopolitical motivations.

“It’s about decency,” Rojansky told PBS NewsHour. It’s about whether people have a right to protest, to speak out about what they want in the first place, whether the government can simply steal from them with impunity, which it has been doing for many years now.”