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

 

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
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

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Digital Content Officer - Central London - £33,000

£28000 - £33000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive (Digital Marketi...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform