Ukraine protests: President Yanukovych returns from sick leave following 20,000 strong demonstration

President Yanukovych announced he would be taking sick leave on Thursday, sparking speculation he was preparing to step down.

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych will return to work on Monday after sick leave, as protesters continued to call for his resignation on Sunday.

His absence since Thursday has been interpreted by some as a preparation to step out of office, while others see it as a prelude to a further crackdown on the widespread anti-government protests.

However, his office maintains that he was suffering from a fever and breathing problems.

His illness was announced the morning after the parliament voted to offer amnesty to protesters on the condition that demonstrators vacate occupied government buildings in Kiev and elsewhere in the country.

The measure was greeted with disdain by protesters, who viewed the move as the government creating a hostage situation, using protesters as a means to negotiating concessions. 

Ukraine protests: US steps up search for agreement at Munich Security Conference  

Protests continued despite his leave. Around 20,000 people had assembled at the main protest site in the capital Kiev’s Independence Square on Sunday, one of the largest gatherings to be held in almost three months of unrest.

Opposition leaders urged supporters at the rally to push forward with demands, with Arseniy Yatsenyuk emphasising the importance of the government releasing all of the people arrested during the protests.

“We must free all,” he said, adding that there were 116 people being held. “Freedom to every hero.”

Vitali Klitschko showed that opposition hopes for co-operation from abroad were high.

“The crisis will end at last when under the auspices of the international community we will hold new elections that will stop the regime of Yanukovych,” he said.

“Repression works in reverse. More people are coming to Maidan,” said demonstrator Tamara Tribko, using the abbreviated name of the square where an extensive tent camp has been established since early December.

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

Meanwhile authorities granted permission to a prominent opposition activist to leave Ukraine for treatment of injuries he sustained after allegedly being kidnapped and tortured.

Dmytro Bulatov went missing on 22 January and resurfaced a week later, heavily bruised and with part of an ear missing. The incident, along with the beatings of other activists, one of whom died, raised fears that government supporters are using brutal hirelings to intimidate the opposition.

Police had sought Mr Bulatov for questioning on suspicion of organising mass disorder, but prosecutors said he was free to go on Sunday.

The Baltic News Service said Mr Bulatov arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, shortly after midnight local time and was immediately rushed to a hospital.

The protests began in late November after Mr Yanukovych backed away from a long-awaited agreement to deepen ties with the European Union, and soon encompassed a wider range of grievances after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

On Tuesday the Ukrainian Parliament is expected to consider reforms to the constitution that would reduce some presidential powers and allot them to the Prime Minister. Mr Yanukovych last week accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, but has not appointed a new one.

Additional reporting by PA

See incredible photos of clashes between protesters and the police in January below

 

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
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

Salesforce Developer

£500 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Salesforce APEX Developer APEX, Classe...

Market Access Analyst (FIX 5.0, Equities, Derivatives)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Access Analyst (FIX On-boarding, FIX 5.0,...

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Level 3 or above Ear...

Special Needs teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Need teachers required t...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on