Ukraine's Yanukovych to hold talks on crisis

Friday 13 December 2013 12.37
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Ukraine's opposition has called for a mass weekend rally
Ukraine's opposition has called for a mass weekend rally
Thousands of protesters have rallied in Independence Square at the heart of the capital Kiev for three weeks
Thousands of protesters have rallied in Independence Square at the heart of the capital Kiev for three weeks
Ukrainian riot police stand guard in the government building district in Kiev
Ukrainian riot police stand guard in the government building district in Kiev

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych will hold talks today on finding a way out of a political crisis that is weighing on the country’s weak economy.

It comes as he faces continuing mass protests calling for his resignation.

Thousands of protesters have rallied in a square at the heart of the capital Kiev for three weeks over the government's U-turn on policy away from the European Union towards Russia.

They are demanding that Mr Yanukovych step down.

Mr Yanukovych, who has said he still plans to sign an association agreement with the EU, held talks with his three successors as president this week, but the opposition did not attend. 

The president also said that he would propose an amnesty for those detained during street protests, a key demand of opposition leaders.

EU and US officials have called on Mr Yanukovych to start a dialogue with all parties taking part in the protests.
              
Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, added his voice to the calls, saying: "I am in favour of talks, so that politicians, authorities, the opposition ... sit at the negotiating table and agree on something we can be proud of."
              
Vitaly Klitschko, a top opposition politician, said this week he would not hold talks with Mr Yanukovych after protesters were attacked by riot police at a demonstration.

However, he has since announced that he will attend the talks.

A spokeswoman said today Mr Klitschko's position had not changed.
              
Independent political analysts say the opposition is unlikely to attend any talks until Mr Yanukovych signals he will meet at least some of their demands, which include the government's resignation, the release of what they call political prisoners and the prosecution of the riot police who wounded protesters.

Keywords: ukraine, kiev