Ukrainian opposition rejects power-sharing deal

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Image: Ybilyk.

Protests in Ukraine are set to continue after opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk rejected a deal offered today by the president, Viktor Yanukovych, for Yatsenyuk to become Prime Minister. Yatsenyuk and the opposition movement known as 'EuroMaidan' have said they want certain demands, including running new elections, to be met before taking a power-sharing deal.

On Twitter, Yatsenyuk told the President: "No deal... we're finishing what we started. The people decide our leaders, not you."

Protests started in November of last year after the Ukrainian government decided to reject a free trade deal with the European Union and build stronger ties with Russia. Following the rejection of the EU deal, the Russian government has bought US$15 billion of Ukrainian government bonds and given a discount on gas supplies from Russia, cutting the price from over $400 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas to $268.50. The right-wing Ukrainian politician Oleh Tyahnybok said at the time President Yanukovych had "pawned whole sectors" of the Ukrainian economy to Russia.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has called the protests in Ukraine the work of "very well prepared and trained militant groups". Putin said: "This is an attempt to shake the current and, I want to emphasise, legitimate authorities in the country."

On November 30, riot police detained protesters and allegedly used violence against them. In December, a statue of Vladimir Lenin was brought down by protesters. Protesters have claimed that after being arrested, they have been tortured by police including being beaten, forced to strip naked.

The protests have become more violent in the past week following a shooting of two protesters—Serhiy Nihoyan and Mikhail Zhyznewski—on Wednesday. The police denied responsibility.