Ukraine’s embattled President Viktor Yanukovych may agree to early elections, an allied lawmaker said even as fierce debate raged in Parliament over ways to end two-month-old anti-government protests.
“The President said: ‘If we politicians can’t reach an agreement here and now then the only democratic way of resolving the situation is early elections’,” Yuri Miroshnichenko, a lawmaker from Mr. Yanukovych's Party of the Regions, told Ukrainian television channel ICTV.
According to Mr. Miroshnichenko, Mr. Yanukovych has ruled out the use of force to chase away protesters from the Maidan Independence Square, the heart of the mass anti-government protests that broke out over the government’s refusal to sign a free trade and association pact with the European Union.
Ukrainian Parliament resumed its session on Monday with a heated debate over opposition demand for a return to a 2004 Constitution which took away from the President and handed to Parliament the powers to appoint the Prime Minister, the government and regional governors.
Mr. Yanukovych’s allies argued that the 2004 constitutional reform had led to “chaos”. Communists, for their part, called for abolishing the post of President at all and transforming Ukraine into a federation.
Some opposition leaders blamed Russia for Ukraine’s problems.
“It is necessary to reform the state and the nation’s organism through decriminalisation, de-Russification and de-Putinisation,” said Oleg Tyagnybok, leader of the far-right party Svoboda (Freedom). “The Kremlin is trying to break up Ukraine.”
Opposition leaders said they had submitted a bill bring back the 2004 Constitution.
“If we fail to come to a common stand [on the constitutional reform] in Parliament, we’ll take up the issue with the President,” said Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Udar (Strike) party.
Mr. Yanukovych has not commented on the standoff with the opposition after it rejected his offers of the post of Prime Minister and amnesty to protesters, and is yet to name a replacement for Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, whose resignation he accepted last week.
Later this week Mr. Yanukovych is expected to discuss the crisis with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi where both will attend the opening of the Winter Olympics.
As European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton headed to Kiev for talks with Mr. Yanukovych and the opposition leaders on Tuesday, Ukraine upbraided the West for biased and “provocative” judgements about the situation in the country.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called in Germany’s Ambassador to Kyiv over Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s suggestion that sanctions could be used against Ukraine.
The Ministry stressed the need to give “objective assessment” to political processes in Ukraine and avoid “provocative statements”.