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Ukraine government considers early elections

Protesters stand firm as government considers political solutions to the two-month crisis.

Last updated: 04 Feb 2014 18:45
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Ukraine’s authorities have voiced the possibility of early presidential elections for the first time as the government tries to show its determination to find a peaceful solution to the continuing conflict.

Yuriy Miroshnychenko, Viktor Yanukovich's personal representative in parliament, told AFP news agency on Tuesday that the president has spoken at a meeting with politicians last week of "two possible scenarios" to end the two-month crisis.

"The first is the release of occupied buildings and an amnesty [for protesters] and the second is early elections. The amnesty is not working out," said Miroshnychenko, referring to the release of detained protesters.

The opposition wants protesters freed unconditionally, while Yanukovich and his ruling Regions Party say this can only happen if occupied buildings including ministries and regional government offices are vacated within the next few days.

However, some anti-government activists refuse to accept the results of any negotiation between the opposition and the authorities, saying they would not quit until the president resigns.

“Nobody will go home just like that. So many people sacrificed their lives and we’ll just go home? We will stand until the end,” Oleg Smolniy, an anti-government activist, told Al Jazeera’s Tamila Varshalomidze in Kiev.

“The Ukrainian people got poisoned [with the spirit of the uprising] that they won’t back down now.”

Another activist, who only gave his nickname Odinochka, told Al Jazeera: “Everyone here already understood that the opposition has already made some deals with the government. They have distributed top positions among themselves.”

Financial support

As the protesters kept occupying government buildings and guarding barricades in central Kiev, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said sanctions should be used as a threat against Yanukovich’s government.

Tamila Varshalomidze reporting from Ukraine

"I think we must now show sanctions as a threat," Steinmeier told Germany's ARD television in an interview late on Monday, adding that Germany had to be ready to opt for these measures unless the government found a political solution to its over two-month uprising that was marred by violence and several deaths.

The attitude of the Social Democrat minister contradicts the belief of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said last week there was no question of sanctions at the moment.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Monday the EU was looking into providing additional financial assistance for Ukraine, AP news agency reported.

He claimed the 28-state bloc and its international partners were discussing what more could be done to help, but it was not about entering a “bidding competition of who pays more for a signature from Ukraine”, referring to a trade deal between the EU and Ukraine that Yanukovich rejected in November.

Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk has asked for $20bn, a $5bn larger package to the one promised by Russia that is now on hold.

Ukrainian president rejected the EU deal in November and accepted a $15bn loan package from Russia instead, which triggered massive ongoing anti-government protests.

Additional reporting by Tamila Varshalomidze

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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