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
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel