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Ukrainian President: Olive Branch Extended Or Trap?

    January 25, 2014
    Toni Matthews-El
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The offer made by Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych to Arseniy Yatsenyuk put the opposition leader in a tough position. If Yatsenyuk were to accept Yanukovych’s offer and become the new prime minister, it could move both sides towards successful negotiations and an end to the violence. However, some remain wary of the offer, which is seen by some anti-government protesters as a means to “divide and conquer”.

This week has been especially tumultuous in Ukraine as three protesters were killed in clashes with police. Two men were shot and a third died of unknown causes. At the same time, the Interior Ministry has claimed that a policeman was murdered, having been shot in the head. There are also accusations that protesters captured and tortured two police officers. The charges are denied by members of the opposition, who in turn have accused Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko of making phony allegations in order to justify brutal attacks on Ukrainian citizens.

Emotions remain high after months of conflict between citizens and Ukranian authorities. The unrest began back in November when president Viktor Yanukovych opted to forgo creating a pact with the European Union and instead chose to strengthen ties with Russia. This move was especially upsetting to western Ukrainians who feel much closer to Europe and view Russia’s behavior as an attempt to rebuild the Soviet Union. Eastern Ukraine, where many speak Russian, has been far more supportive of the president’s actions.

Yatsenyuk and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, who had been offered a deputy premiership by Yanukovych, have spoken to protesters at Independence Square, and it’s now being reported that they have refused the offers made. Could circumstances change?

For now it seems that the opposition leaders are not backing down or compromising. If Yanukovych wants the protests to end, it seems he’s going to have make even greater concessions.

Image via Channel 4 News Twitter