UK & World News

  • 17 February 2014, 8:11

Ukraine: Arrested Protesters Granted Amnesty

Protesters arrested during months of anti-government unrest in Ukraine have been granted amnesty after the opposition agreed to end its occupation of Kiev public buildings.

The law which drops charges against the demonstrators came into effect on Monday, a day after activists left buildings including the city hall which they have occupied in response to President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to reject an EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with Russia.

Nearly three months after the protests began, the opposition remains entrenched in its sprawling tent city on Kiev's iconic Independence Square.

Mr Yanukovych conditionally approved the law at the beginning of the month as he sought to pacify protesters.

In a statement, Ukrainian prosecutors said: "The law comes into force from February 17, and stipulates that charges against people having committed offences ... will be dropped."

Vitali Klitschko, the former heavyweight champion boxer turned opposition leader, said the decision to evacuate the city hall was the right thing to do.

"When you're behind bars, you don't have the same outlook," he said.

Some of those arrested had been facing charges carrying sentences of up to 15 years in jail.

Mr Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, another opposition leader, will be travelling to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday to press her for European financial assistance.

Mr Yanukovich dismissed his unpopular government after the deadly riots, but he has yet to appoint a new one and the opposition wants its members to be placed in key positions.

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