KIEV, Ukraine -- The Ukrainian opposition flatly rejected an offer
from the president to share power Sunday following months of protests
that turned deadly last week.
"No deal @ua_yanukovych, we're finishing what we started," tweeted opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk.
President Viktor Yanukovych met the leaders of the three main
parliamentary opposition groups for the second time Saturday, offering
the prime minister's post to Yatseniuk, leader of Batkivshchyna, the
biggest opposition party.
Former heavyweight boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko was offered a job of deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs.
After initially mulling the offers, and telling protesters gathered
at Independence Square, "We are ready to take this responsibility and to
lead Ukraine to European Union," Yatseniuk turned the post down, saying
the president had not agreed to some key demands of the opposition
including the calling of immediate elections. Elections are currently
scheduled for next year.
"Negotiations will continue," said Klitschko.
protesters led by the opposition also want amnesty for protesters, a
change in the constitution to give more powers to parliament over the
president, the repeal of a tough anti-protest law adopted Jan. 16, and
the signing of a free trade agreement with the European Union.
The protests initially began Kiev on Nov. 21 in reaction to Yanukovych's rejection of the EU deal.
Jan. 19, they turned violent, after protesters attacked police blocking
a street leading to parliament. Police confirmed two deaths in the
violence, but protesters say five were killed after police fired live
ammunition at the crowds.
Since then, the protesters have occupied more than 11 governors'
offices around the country as well an exhibition center in downtown Kiev
with some 200 police officers inside.
Opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok said the pressure has led Yanukovych to finally make concessions.
"Yanukovych talked to us only because you are here," Yatseniuk told the protesters.
Analysts say that Yanukovych, a wily and tough operator who has run Ukraine since 2010, realizes his position has been weakened.
offer shows that Yanukovych is worried about the strength of his main
resource - law enforcement," said political analyst Taras Berezovets of
Berta Communications in Kiev. "It's not surrender but an attempt to play
for time. He wants to split opposition leaders with this offer."
the opposition won't accept it - it would be silly to when the
protesters already control half of the (outlying) regions and Yanukovych
is as weak as ever," Berezovets added.
Protesters say they don't support such an offer and vowed to stay on the streets.
"It doesn't seem right to me - I joined the protest because I want
Yanukovych to go, and so did most of the people here," said protester
Tetyana Yakovenko, 41, in Kiev. "I'm not sure people will agree to go
home just because the opposition gets government positions."
Tuesday, lawmakers are holding a special session of parliament that is
intended to discuss a change in ministers and possibly repeal of the new
"Tuesday is judgment day," Yatseniuk told protesters. "We don't believe what they say, we believe what they do."