Ukraine crisis: President Yanukovych and opposition sign deal to hold early elections

Presidential press agency says deal will be signed later today as death toll from violence reaches at least 77

The Ukraine president has signed a deal with opposition leaders, agreeing to hold early presidential elections after all-night crisis talks.

President Viktor Yanukovych also agreed to a national unity government and to make constitutional changes that would reduce the powers of the president.

The President and three opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnibok signed the deal in the Ukrainian president's office Friday.

The deal was also signed by two European Union foreign ministers who helped broker it in tortuous negotiations that lasted more than 30 hours.

"This agreement is not the end of the process. It's the beginning of the process," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after the signing.

Ukraine's newly empowered parliament has since voted to allow the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko after she spent more than two years in prison.

Legislators voted 310-54 to decriminalize the count under which she was imprisoned, meaning that she is no longer guilty of a criminal offense.

"Free Yulia! Free Yulia!" legislators chanted after the vote.

It's not immediately clear when she might be released from the eastern city of Kharkiv where she is serving her sentence

Her release came after shots rang out in Kiev's Independence Square and fights broke out among deputies in Ukraine's parliament this morning, despite the president's assurance that a peace deal had been reached with opposition leaders in overnight crisis talks.

The agreement was reached following hours of talks mediated by three EU foreign ministers. It says a new presidential election will be held no later than December 2014. It also says that Ukrainian authorities will restore within 48 hours a previous constitution that limits presidential powers, then name a coalition government within 10 days.

The agreement adds that the government will not impose a state of emergency and both sides will refrain from violence.

The signing came hours after Mr Yanukovych made concessions under pressure from European mediators.

Fighting had broken out earlier between deputies in Ukraine's parliament earlier when the speaker declared a pause during a debate on a possible resolution calling for Mr Yanukovych's powers to be reduced.

More violence on the streets of Kiev was reported today. Ukraine police allegedly shot back when protesters opened fire opened fire on officers between the main protest square in Kiev and the parliament building.

It was not immediately clear who was firing the shots in the square, also known as the Maidan, but the country's interior ministry accused the opposition of breaking the shaky truce by shooting at police.

The deal came as the Ukrainian health ministry put the number of people killed in this week's violence at 77, though opposition activists say the figure is over 100.

.

Read more:
Bloodshed on Europe's doorstep as EU tries to stop killing

This morning, several thousand protesters milled around Independence Square, known as the Maidan, which earlier this week was rocked by street battles between protesters and police.

The scene in Kiev's Independence Square on Friday morning The scene in Kiev's Independence Square on Friday morning Yanukovych and the opposition protesters have been locked in a battle over the identity of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West. Parts of the country — mostly in its western cities — are in open revolt against Yanukovych's central government, while many in eastern Ukraine back the president and favour strong ties with Russia, their former Soviet ruler.

In Brussels, the 28-nation European Union decided in an emergency meeting yesterday to impose sanctions against those behind the violence in Ukraine, including a travel ban and an asset freeze against some government officials.

Yesterday was the deadliest day yet at the sprawling protest camp in Kiev. Snipers were seen shooting at protesters there, and video footage showed at least one sniper wearing a Ukraine riot police uniform.

One of the wounded, volunteer medic Olesya Zhukovskaya, sent out a brief Twitter message — "I'm dying" — after she was shot in the neck. Dr Oleh Musiy, the medical coordinator for the protesters, said she was in serious condition after undergoing surgery.

  Opposition protesters build barricades overnight Opposition protesters build barricades overnight Video footage on Ukrainian television showed shocking scenes yesterday of protesters being cut down by gunfire, lying on the pavement as comrades rushed to their aid.

Protesters were also seen leading policemen, their hands held high, around the sprawling protest camp in central Kiev. The Interior Ministry said 67 police were captured in all. An opposition politician said they were being held in Kiev's occupied city hall.

Interior Ministry members in plain-clothes are escorted out of Independence Square Interior Ministry members in plain-clothes are escorted out of Independence Square The US State Department on Thursday issued a statement warning citizens "to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine due to the ongoing political unrest."

The Kremlin issued a statement with Putin blaming radical protesters and voicing "extreme concern about the escalation of armed confrontation in Ukraine."

The Russian leader called for an immediate end to bloodshed and for steps "to stabilize the situation and stop extremist and terrorist actions." He also sent former Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to Ukraine to act as a mediator.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam