Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych has apparently decided to take time out to ponder his next moves after his concessions to the opposition failed to mollify protesters.
Hours after the opposition rejected an amnesty to protesters, Mr. Yanukovych’s office said he was down with acute respiratory condition and high fever. It is for the first time in years Ukraine’s burly leader has taken a sick leave.
The amnesty law voted by Parliament late on Wednesday requires the protesters to vacate within 15 days key government buildings they occupied in the capital Kiev and other cities and remove their barricades. Opposition leaders said the demand was “unacceptable” and would only “raise the temperature in society.” The opposition leaders also turned down Mr. Yanukovych’s other concessions – an offer of the post of Prime Minister, resignation of the government and repeal of harsh anti-protest laws. They vowed to continue protests to press for a power sharing reform and fresh presidential elections. Several protester groups in Kiev on Wednesday formed a “national guard” to prevent police from breaking up protest camps on the Maidan Independence Square in the city centre. Violent clashes between demonstrators and police last week left several people killed and hundreds wounded.
Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution threatening to suspend Ukraine’s voting rights “if grave human rights violations continue, or if the Maidan protest were to be broken up by force.”
At a meeting with his government on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to put on hold the second instalment of his $15 billion bailout package for Ukraine till it forms a new government. In the first fallout of the Ukrainian crisis in Russia its only independent television station Dozhd (Rain) on Thursday was taken off the air by most cable providers. The backlash was ostensibly over an “unpatriotic” and “offensive” poll on the station’s website, asking viewers whether the city of Leningrad should have been surrendered to the Nazis during World War Two to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Dozhd has been critical of the Kremlin and offered sympathetic coverage of the protests in Ukraine.