Ukraine protests: Amnesty given as President Viktor Yanukovych faces pressure from Moscow

President has become increasingly isolated as the country’s political crisis shows no sign of abating

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has signed an amnesty law for protesters detained during weeks of anti-government unrest, amid calls for him to take a tougher stance against the opposition movement or risk losing power.

Mr Yanukovych’s latest concession was quickly rejected by protesters, due to its conditions, which said they must leave municipal buildings occupied across the country, and clear the Maidan, the sprawling protest camp which has paralysed Kiev city centre.

The President, who officially went on sick leave on Thursday with an acute respiratory condition, has become increasingly isolated as the country’s political crisis shows no sign of abating. More than six people are now reported to have died and hundreds injured in clashes between protesters and police.

The protests began peacefully in November when Kiev shunned closer ties with the EU in favour of a £9 billion bailout deal with Russia to balance its dire finances. Demonstrations took a more radical turn this month, when authorities passed a harsh anti-protest law clamping down on basic rights of assembly and movement aimed at curbing dissent.

The laws have since been repealed as part of a concessions package offered by Mr Yanukovych, which has also seen the Prime Minister and his cabinet resign. However, opposition leaders have called for further negotiations, as they continue to push for early elections. 


In comments published on Thursday, an advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin said Mr Yanukovych has been left with “no choice” but to suppress what he called an “insurgency”.

“Either he protects Ukrainian statehood and suppresses the insurgency… or he risks losing power, and then Ukraine faces growing chaos and internal conflict from which no exit is visible,” said Sergei Glaziev in an interview with a magazine for the Russian state gas company, Gazprom.

In a sign of Russia’s economic leverage over Ukraine, Moscow has said it will hold off on buying £1.2 billion of government bonds until a new government is formed.

Mr Glaziev’s comments came as Ukraine’s army also called on the president to take “urgent steps” to ease the crisis.

However, authorities came under further intense scrutiny for use of force, after a prominent opposition activist who disappeared for eight days reappeared claiming he had been kidnapped, tortured and left to die in the suburbs of the capital Kiev.

There have been dozens of cases of police brutality during the unrest, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

Dmytro Bulatov, leader of the AutoMaidan protest movement which organised motorcades outside the houses of politicians and oligarchs, was found locked in a house in the suburb of Boryspil on Thursday, according to local TV station Channel 5.

Wearing blood-stained clothes and exhibiting cuts and bruises, the 35-year-old activist gave a brief interview to media before being admitted to a Kiev clinic for medical treatment.

“My whole body is a mess. You can see everything. I am alive. Thank God for this,” he told reporters.

Mr Bulatov disappeared on 22 January when the AutoMaidan motorcade he was travelling with was ambushed. Activists at the anti-government protest said they were beaten by police and hired thugs. Mr Bulatov said those who held him had Russian accents, but does not know who they were.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, said she was “appalled by the obvious signs of prolonged torture and cruel treatment” of Mr Bulatov, and said it was up to the authorities to ensure that security services acted with restraint.

“All such acts are unacceptable and must immediately be stopped,” said Ms Ashton, who was in Kiev earlier this week as part of EU efforts to diffuse the crisis.

Police in Ukraine said they had opened an investigation and posted guards at the hospital where he is being treated.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to meet opposition leaders - including world champion boxer-turned-politican Vitaly Klitschko - on the sidelines of security conference in Munich yesterday. “Our message to Ukraine’s opposition will be the full support of President Obama and of the American people,” Mr Kerry said before the meetings.

“But we will also say to them that if you get that reform agenda... we would urge them to engage in that because further standoff, or further violence that becomes uncontrollable, is not in anybody’s interests.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine