KIEV, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and three main opposition leaders on Friday signed a deal on bringing forward election and reducing presidential powers to resolve the country's bloody standoff that has left dozens killed and hundreds of others injured.
The agreement envisages constitutional changes to reduce the president's power, formation of a national unity government within 10 days and an early presidential election this year. The package of measures is seen as concessions Yanukovych made to his pro- European opponents to end the bloodshed amid a stand-off between riot police and anti-government protesters who have occupied a Kiev central square for nearly three months.
Within hours of the signing, Ukrainian parliament voted to revert to a 2004 constitution that sharply limits the power of the president and gives parliament greater control over the make-up of the government, including the prime minister.
The lawmakers also voted to sack Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko blamed for this week's bloodshed.
In a further sign of Yanukovych's diminished clout, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill that would allow the release of his arch-rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko, a key opposition leader, was convicted in October 2011 for abuse of power over a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She was also charged with embezzling an estimated 405 million U.S. dollars and evading tax worth more than 87,000 dollars in the 1990s.
The 53-year-old opposition leader, who is now receiving medical treatment in a state hospital in eastern Ukraine, has denied all charges, saying they were politically motivated.
With at least 226 votes needed, 310 lawmakers in the 450-seat body approved the bill to amend the law on corruption and decriminalize the charge count under which Tymoshenko was imprisoned.
The parliament also voted in favor of holding the presidential vote no later than October 2014 and granting amnesty for all protesters involved in the anti-government rallies. The vote has been due in March 2015.
European Union (EU) mediators, namely foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland, signed the document as witnesses, the presidential press office said in a statement.
Ukraine's anti-government rallies turned violent Tuesday, when protesters attacked police with Molotov cocktails and set fires outside the parliament, while the police responded with stun grenades and water cannons. The standoff left at least 77 people dead and hundreds of other injured.
The protests began in November after Yanukovych shelved a trade and economic agreement with the EU and turned instead to Russia for financial aid.
EU welcomes Ukraine deal on early election
BRUSSELS, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Friday welcomed the agreement reached between the Ukrainian government and the opposition, which opens the way for an early presidential election this year in Ukraine.
"The agreement is a necessary compromise in order to launch an indispensable political dialogue that offers the only democratic and peaceful way out of the crisis that has already caused too much suffering and bloodshed on all sides," said Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council. Full story
Moscow not sign Ukraine peace deal due to unanswered questions: Russian mediator
MOSCOW, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Russia didn't sign a peace deal aimed at ending the political crisis in Ukraine on the grounds that certain questions regarding the agreement remained unanswered, a Russian mediator said Friday.
After months of confrontation, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and three main opposition leaders on Friday signed the deal on bringing forward elections and reducing presidential powers to resolve the country's bloody standoff that has left dozens killed and hundreds of others injured. Full story