After two days of extreme violence that saw opposition members set Independence Square on fire and government police forces employing snipers to kill protesters from afar, the Ukrainian government and opposition leadership have come to an accord on a number of significant changes to Ukrainian Constitution. As the German foreign ministry is reporting, the two sides have come to agreement on a broad range of issues.
- The 2004 constitution will be restored within 48 hours, and a national unity government will be formed within 10 days
- Constitutional reform balancing the powers of president, government and parliament will be started immediately and completed by September
- A presidential election will be held after the new constitution is adopted but no later than December 2014 and new electoral laws will be passed
- An investigation into recent acts of violence will be conducted under joint monitoring from the authorities, the opposition and the Council of Europe
- The authorities will not impose a state of emergency and both the authorities and the opposition will refrain from the use of violence
- Illegal weapons will be handed over to interior ministry bodies
This, however, does not settle the issue, Russia declined to approve of the accord even as activists in Warsaw plan to picket the Russian embassy there, and many of the more extreme right wing factions of the opposition (Svoboda and affiliated) may not accept anything short of President Yanukovych’s resignation. However, according to the New York Times, the majority of the opposition’s representatives have voted in favor of the agreement.
“We have signed,” Radosław Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister and part of a European team that has been pushing for a settlement, said in an email message. He added that a council representing protesters in Independence Square, the focal point of months of protests, had endorsed the hard-fought deal in a vote, with 34 voting in favor and only 2 against.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of three opposition members of Parliament who signed the accord with Mr. Yanukovych, acknowledged that it might not go down well protesters who want Mr. Yanukovych gone, but said they could be persuaded.
“We need to explain and we need to not only explain we need to act,” he said after marathon negotiations at the presidential administration mediated by European and Russian diplomats. “People will never trust any kind of signature. People will trust real action.”
In the aftermath of this week’s fighting, the toll of the violence is only now being accounted for. Reuters has reported that so far it appears that 75 individuals were killed in total over Tuesday and Wednesday with hundreds more being injured.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether this brand new accord will hold or whether a new outbreak of violence will occur but for Ukrainians, at least, it appears that both Western and Eastern Ukrainians have reason to hope for a peaceful resolution to what has been both a political and cultural crisis.
Signs are mixed, despite adopting the resolution to return to the 2004 Ukrainian Constitution, this scuffle broke out among the MP’s voting on the measure.