Ukraine set for showdown as ultimatum nears end

Ukraine set for showdown as ultimatum nears end

Thousands of anti-government protesters held out on the streets of Kiev on Thursday, as a 24-hour ultimatum by the opposition calling for President Viktor Yanukovych to step down approached, dpa reported.

In a first concession, parliament said it would discuss whether the government should resign at an extraordinary session next week.

A new round of talks between opposition leaders and Yanukovych on Thursday ended with no breakthrough.

Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko said the main demands were to end "the terror and the persecution of people" as well as the resignation of the government, the Interfax news agency reported.

The former boxing champion asked demonstrators to be patient, while Yanukovych promised to free within three days the estimated 100 protesters who were arrested. After fatalies among the anti-government demonstrators, the pro-Russian camp in Kiev signalled a willingness to give in.

The call for the president to step down came after three activists were killed. Two died in Kiev of gunshot wounds. The opposition blamed those killings on police, but the Interior Ministry said that officers had not been issued guns.

The body of a third activist, Yuri Verbytskyi, was discovered with marks of torture. Police said that the bruises could not be linked to his death and that the activist died of hypothermia.

Some opposition members put the death toll at seven.

The deaths were the first since the crisis over Yanukovych's rejection of a partnership deal with the European Union erupted in November.

There were also reports of violence against journalists. A reporter for Russia's news site, Andrei Kiselyov, was beaten by police, said colleagues who posted a photo of his badly bruised face online.

Outside the capital, protesters stormed or encircled a number of regional administrations. In the western region of Lviv, the Yanukovych-appointed governor, Oleh Salo, was forced to sign a resignation letter. Salo later retracted, saying that he had signed under duress.

The opposition stepped up the protests at the weekend after parliament approved laws that curb free speech, establish new penalties for unlawful protests and make it easier to strip legislators of their immunity.

The government has blamed the protesters for the violence. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Thursday that the opposition activists were "rebels" trying to overthrow the government.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Azarov said that early presidential elections were "absolutely unrealistic," Interfax reported. Yanukovych's current five-year term expires in spring 2015.

The tense situation plunged Ukraine into its deepest crisis since the Orange Revolution of 2004-2005. That was touched off when pro-Western protesters denounced the results of a run-off presidential election rigged in favour of Yanukovych.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso urged Yanukovych in a telephone call to immediately start a dialogue with the opposition.

Barroso said the EU was ready to mediate in the crisis, his spokesman Olivier Bailly told reporters in Brussels. Stefan Fule, the EU Commissioner for neighbourhood policy, will travel to Kiev Friday, and foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is to visit next week.

Bailly also said that sanctions against Ukraine was "only an eventuality if the violence continues."

US Vice President Joe Biden called Yanukovych and urged an immediate de-escalation of the standoff by taking steps to end the violence and address protesters' concerns.

"While emphasizing that violence by any side is not acceptable, the vice president underscored that only the government of Ukraine can ensure a peaceful end to the crisis and further bloodshed would have consequences for Ukraine's relationship with the United States," the White House said. The US indicated sanctions are possible if violence continues.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out sanctions, saying they are "not the order of the day." She also phoned Yanukovych and urgently appealed for a serious dialogue with the opposition.

Russia, which has agreed to sell Ukrainian natural gas at a discount and provided the government a multi-billion-dollar credit line, has accused the EU and the United States of fueling the protests.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview published Thursday that any interference in Ukraine's internal affairs was unacceptable.

Without naming any country, Peskov said that Moscow resented it "when foreign ambassadors in Kiev tell the government in Ukraine what it should do."

Russia reports over 23,500 daily coronavirus cases
Russia reports over 23,500 daily coronavirus cases
Brazilian healthcare watchdog declines request for emergency use of Sputnik V vaccine
Brazilian healthcare watchdog declines request for emergency use of Sputnik V vaccine
Kazakhstan sees decrease in exports to EAEU countries
Kazakhstan sees decrease in exports to EAEU countries
Loading Bars
UK records lowest daily increase of coronavirus cases this year
Israel registers 5,825 new COVID-19 cases, totaling 547,689
Brazil clears emergency use of Sinovac, AstraZeneca vaccines, shots begin
Azerbaijan discloses volume of methanol exported in 2020
Portugal's health system on brink of collapse as COVID-19 cases surge
Iran, EUAE trade value hits $3.419B since signing PTA: TPOI
Turkey's daily COVID-19 case count drops below 7,000
Iranian Offshore Oil Company boosts extraction
EBRD and Bank CenterCredit support Kazakhstan packaging producer
Israel economy likely to grow 4.6% in 2021, says finance ministry
Russia reports over 23,500 daily coronavirus cases
Quake death toll at 78 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
Kazakhstan twofold decreases exports to Poland
Thousands protest in Amsterdam against Dutch coronavirus lockdown
Residents of nursing homes next in Turkey’s COVID-19 vaccination drive
Bahar Azadi gold coin price again rising in Iran
Call for prayer sounded at Omar pass in direction of Murovdag (VİDEO)
Delegation of Turkic Council, TURKSOY, Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation arrives in Fizuli (PHOTO)
Weekly review of events in Azerbaijani financial market
New flight from Bishkek to Kuwait to be open in February
Oman to close land borders as COVID-19 infections hit 131,790
Chabahar receives first port equipment worth $8.5m from India
Georgian FM to visit Spain
Gas purification unit being modernized at department of Uzbekneftegaz
India's COVID-19 vaccination drive hits bump due to app glitch
Coal concentrate production of two large Iranian companies increases
German minister says COVID curbs should be eased for vaccinated people
Rajnath Singh meets Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali
Six Indians in top-10 of BWF world junior rankings
Bhutan PM congratulates Modi on 'landmark' Covid vaccination drive
Turkic peoples to revive liberated Azerbaijani lands in spiritual and cultural field - TURKSOY Sec-Gen
Azerbaijan discloses main principles of vaccination against COVID-19
Joint exercises of the Azerbaijani and Turkish armies to be held (PHOTO/VİDEO)
Azerbaijan confirms 845 more COVID-19 recoveries
Kazakhstan's Baikonur extends quarantine until Feb 1
Call for prayer sounded for first time at cemetery in Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar district previously occupied by Armenia (VIDEO)
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 17
Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
We are happy with Azerbaijan’s return of its ancestral lands - Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan sends interstate statement against Armenia to European Court of Human Rights
Georgia reports 780 coronavirus cases, 1 608 recoveries, 17 deaths
COVID-19 cases continue to drop in Turkey, TRNC braces for new lockdown
Azerbaijan approves COVID-19 vaccination strategy for 2021-2022
Delegation of Turkic Council, Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation and TURKSOY visit Aghdam (PHOTO)
Electricity supplies to Azerbaijan's liberated Shusha begin
Iran discloses number of contracts signed in industrial parks of Ardabil Province
Uzbekistan’s activity on Turkmenistan’s Commodity, Raw Materials Exchange for Dec. 2020
Guatemala cracks down on migrant caravan bound for United States
Iran has means to restore oil extraction
U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Kazakhstan launches ’30 Years Together’ campaign
Brazilian healthcare watchdog declines request for emergency use of Sputnik V vaccine
SOCAR bonds will again bring their owners $1.25 million
Turkey's investments in natural gas supply reach $3B in 18 years
EU would like new EPCA to enhance bilateral relations in Central Asia
Georgia to get first part of Covid vaccine in one month
AEOI issues statement in response to E3
Kazakhstan reports almost 1,000 new COVID-19 cases
U.S. state capitals, Washington on alert for possible pro-Trump armed protests
Argentina confirms first case of new variant of coronavirus
Frankfurt airport terminal shut down over man threatening police
Azerbaijani districts to be digitalized within Smart City project
G7 summit to take place in UK’s Cornwall in June
Volume of essential products available in Iranian ports revealed
France's COVID-19 death toll tops 70,000
Fires in central Chile consume over 3,200 hectares
2 IS militants killed, 6 arrested in Iraq
Iran's Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 18
President Ilham Aliyev calls President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
WHO reports over 688,000 new daily cases of COVID-19
Tunisian PM appoints new ministers in sweeping cabinet reshuffle
Azerbaijani gymnasts awarded the title of "Honorary Master of Sports"
Thousands march in Vienna against coronavirus restrictions
Uzbekistan's Bukhara oil refinery starts production of RON-95 gasoline under QuWatt brand
Iran's SPGC reveals processing data of its first refinery
Kazakhstan, Greece boost trade turnover year-on-year
Building materials price hikes may increase cost of projects in Georgia
Serbia receives 1 mln Sinopharm vaccines from China
Iran's Rasht-Caspian railway to stimulate development of production
Over 110,000 health workers receive COVID-19 vaccine shots in Istanbul
7 killed in helicopter crash in southern Philippines
New footage from Azerbaijani Aghdam district's Shelli village issued (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan confirms 650 more COVID-19 recoveries
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange soar
Georgian plans to vaccinate 60% of its population
Turkmenistan's MFA holds briefing dedicated to commissioning of infrastructure facilities (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan reports big increase in revenues from transporting cargo by air
Preliminary cost of building pharmaceutical cluster in Tashkent revealed
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 16
Member of Turkey's coronavirus board assures efficacy of CoronaVac
Azerbaijan shares footage from Mirzajamally village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Summary of Operational Headquarters' amendments to quarantine regime in Azerbaijan
Azercell’s Mobile Eye and Mobile Dental Clinics provided free medical service to the hundreds of residents in 2020! (PHOTO)
Nepal approves emergency use of Covishield vaccine manufactured in India
COVID-19 infection rate falling in Azerbaijan - TABIB
Georgia reveals number of COVID-19 cases for Jan.16
Iran's trade turnover with Turkmenistan decreases
Japan interested in creation JVs in Uzbekistan in production and services spheres
Details of agricultural products exported to Iraq via Iran's Mehran customs announced
Turkmenistan's Main State Service opens tender for equipment purchase
All news