Anti-government demonstrators in Ukraine’s capital ended their occupation of Kiev City Hall on Sunday in exchange for the release of all jailed protesters, but tensions remained high as hundreds vowed to retake it if the government fails to drop all criminal charges against them.
Prospects for an easing of the standoff between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych dimmed further when Arseniy Yatsenyuk, an opposition leader, again turned down an offer to become prime minister in a coalition government.
Western officials have been advocating a coalition government drawn from the ruling party and the opposition. However Mr Yatsenyuk said he would not agree to take the post, which Mr Yanukovych offered to him last month, unless the president makes further concessions, including constitutional reform that reduces presidential powers.
“I cannot be bought with posts, Mr President. Go ahead and buy your henchmen,” Mr Yatsenyuk said on Sunday.
Demonstrators seized Kiev City Hall on 1 December last year, about a week after protests broke out in response to Mr Yanukovych’s decision to abandon a long-anticipated political and economic treaty with the European Union. The president turned to Russia instead for loans to keep the economy afloat.