AFTER three days of violence between police and protesters in
Independence Square, Kiev, a peace deal has been agreed by the
Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders.
At least 77 people have been killed since a crackdown on
demonstrators, who have been camped in the square for weeks, began
on Tuesday. Many of those killed were shot by police snipers.
The agreement was announced by Mr Yanukovych on Friday morning,
and promised early elections in December this year, and a return to
a parliamentary model of government based on the 2004
In a statement, he also said that a coalition "national unity
government" with the opposition would be formed within ten
French, German, and Polish ministers have been negotiating
between the opposition leaders and Mr Yanukovych's government to
try to stop the violence.
For the deal to work, the parliamentary opposition must persuade
the thousands of protesters in the square to agree to leave their
barricades. They have been demanding Mr Yanukovych's immediate
One of the three main leaders of the protest movement, the
former boxer Vitali Klitschko, said that the opposition was ready
to sign the deal offered by Mr Yanukovych.
A truce was agreed on Wednesday, but by Thursday morning it had
broken down and led to even bloodier clashes between the two sides.
Doctors treating the injured said that most of the dead had single
gunshot wounds to the head, neck, or chest, and appeared to have
been shot by professional snipers.
As protesters sought to retake territory around the square they
had lost to the police on Wednesday, they came under fire from the
surrounding buildings. Some of the opposition have now armed
themselves with pistols, hunting rifles, or guns taken from
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Thursday evening that
three policemen had died, 28 had been injured, and 67 captured by
There were reports of chaos in Independence Square throughout
Thursday as the injured and killed were dragged out of the firing
line and into improvised field hospitals in nearby buildings.
The lobby of the hotel where most foreign journalists are
staying has been filled with injured protesters as medics and
volunteers attempted to treat their wounds. The bodies of those
killed were identified, and then covered with blankets. Priests
prayed for the living and the dead.
An Orthodox priest, Fr Nikolai Himaylo, told The
Guardian: "I'm a witness to what has become a criminal state.
Yanukovych cannot be forgiven. These boys are dying for
Alla Gedz, a member of the Anglican Christ Church in Kiev, part
of the Church of England's diocese in Europe, told the Anglican
Communion News Service she had seen horrific scenes. "I am not
shocked any more when I see dead people, but can cry any time
without any reason. Today, we saw how the dead were pulled out of
St Michael's Cathedral and piled near those who died during the
"We are very grateful for your prayers, because being in
the midst of the revolution we do have supernatural peace in our
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called for an end to
the fighting. In a statement, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspol and
Brovary said: "Since the beginning of the political crisis, and in
the course of the entire period of this conflict, the Ukrainian
Orthodox Church has more than once called for a halt of violence
and a peaceful solution to the conflict. To our great regret, the
voice of the Church has not been heard."
The country is divided between a largely pro-European west and
the mostly pro-Russian east. Mr Yanukovych is strongly backed by
President Putin and the Russian government.
The protests first began in November last year, when Mr
Yanukovych pulled out of signing a trade and political deal with
the EU at the last minute. There were signs, however, that the
pro-Yanukovych movement was disintegrating after the violence meted
out to protesters.
The Mayor of Kiev, Volodymyr Makeyenko - who was appointed by Mr
Yanukovych - announced that he was leaving the President's Party of
the Regions, and backed the protest movement.
Several other government MPs have also defected, as have the
security services in parts of western Ukraine.