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Jailed Ukrainians await fate

January 29, 2014

The repeal of anti-protest laws in Ukraine are seen as a victory by opponents of the government, but the fate of Ukrainians already jailed under the law remains unclear. The opposition demands their release.

Ukraine Protest in Kiew 28.01.2014
Image: Reuters

Ukrainian parliament debates protester amnesty

The Ukrainian parliament is set discuss what is to be done with the jailed protesters on Wednesday. Two weeks ago, parliament passed a set of laws that severely limited Ukrainians' ability to protest and imposed strict punishments for those who broke the law. In addition to repealing the anti-protest law on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet resigned.

Only two lawmakers voted against the repeal of the anti-protest laws, while 361 parliamentarians supported the repeal.

Earlier statements from the office of President Viktor Yanukovych indicated that amnesty might hinge on the protesters clearing public buildings that have been occupied and the removal of barricades on protest sites in Kyiv.

Step forward

The concessions from the government are seen by former boxing champion and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko as "not a victory, but a step to victory." It could lead to an easing of the tension that has gripped Ukraine is recent weeks since Yanukovych backed away from a deal with the European Union that would have strengthened Ukrainian ties with the bloc. The ensuing protests have turned deadly in the last week, as police clashed violently with protesters.

The opposition is calling for elections to be moved forward from their scheduled date at the start of 2015.

Putin's perspective

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to honor loan commitments made to Ukraine in December, regardless of which government is in charge. Under the deal, Russia is to lend Ukraine $15 billion (10.98 billion euros) and offer lower gas prices. The deal came after Yanukovych shelved the talks with the EU.

Speaking after a meeting of European leaders in Brussels, Putin also said Ukraine had to overcome its political upheaval independently.

mz/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)