Opposition agrees to vacate some offices it occupied during recent protests, but warns standoff would escalate if Parliament fails to curb presidential powers

Ukraine’s opposition has agreed to vacate some offices it occupied during recent protests in response to the release of arrested activists, but warned that the standoff would escalate if the Parliament fails to curb presidential powers.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the three main opposition leaders, told reporters on Saturday that protesters would free some government premises in Kiev, but would remain on Independence Square and in several other public buildings.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka announced on Friday that all “234 people arrested between December 26 and February 2,” had been released from custody in line with an amnesty passed by the Parliament two weeks ago.

The amnesty was conditional on the opposition vacating all the occupied buildings, but the government appears unwilling to press for full compliance.

President Viktor Yanukovych has offered several concessions to the opposition, including the post of Prime Minister, but has so far balked at meeting the demand for a constitutional reform and early presidential elections.

“If the Parliament fails to act [ on the constitutional reform] next week, this will mean that the authorities are ready to escalate the situation and the conflict will be decided outside the Parliament, in the streets,” Mr. Yatsenyuk warned on Saturday.

Mr. Yanukovych went on television on Friday night to call for a peaceful settlement of the crisis which broke out after he refused to sign an association pact with the European Union in November 2013.

“I don't want to wage war,” Mr. Yanukovych said in a televised interview. “I want to safeguard the state and resume a stable development. We are asking the opposition to also make concessions.”

The Ukrainian leader said he would support holding a national referendum “on the most painful issues raised by the Ukrainian people”, without specifying the issues.

However, the jailed opposition leader, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said that the opposition would only agree to Mr. Yanukovych’s resignation.

“The only subject of negotiation with Yanukovych is the conditions of his departure,” Ms. Tymoshenko said in an interview with weekly Dzerkalo Tyzhnia.

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