Yanukovych accepts EU peace deal, but will the opposition go for it?
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has accepted an EU-sponsored framework to end the crisis gripping the country. He is calling for snap presidential elections, a "government of national unity," and changes to the Constitution that would limit his powers.
Major opposition figures appear to be on board, but the rank and file protestors may not accept the deal.
The Telegraph has been liveblogging the protests:
12.03 Just when we thought it might all be over... Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has sounded another note of caution, saying that the agreement signed today has not yet been approved by the opposition. He said that a definitive deal is still very distant, and that the risk still remained that the worst case scenario could materialise in Ukraine.
12.31 The German and Polish foreign ministers are headed for talks with opposition protesters, where they will discuss the draft agreement just signed with Viktor Yanukovych.
12.47 Vitaly Klitschko, one of the three mainstream opposition leaders, has told the German newspaper Bild that the opposition will sign the deal. But, he says, further talks are needed with protesters. This might signal concern within the opposition that not everyone within the disparate alliance will accept the agreement.
It's hard to stop a revolution once it's underway. If the protestors can be convinced that they will achieve power peacefully, they may agree to winning via the ballot. But this would by no means be guaranteed, especially since many protestors see the hand of Putin in the crisis. What will Russia do to prevent Ukraine from turning to the west? Someone should ask Putin.
The agreement looks good on paper, but there is little trust among the opposition for Yanukovych, and getting them to accept a deal that would virtually disarm them is not going to be easy.
"There are no steps that we should not take to restore peace in Ukraine," he said. "I announce that I am initiating early elections."
Yanukovich said Ukraine, which emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union in 1991, would revert to a previous constitution under which the president had less authority.
"I am also starting the process of a return to the 2004 constitution with a rebalancing of powers towards a parliamentary republic," he said. "I call for the start of procedures for forming a government of national unity."
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose foreign minister is part of a European Union team trying to broker a compromise, said he could not be certain that the "worst-case scenario" could be avoided. "The threats are still there," he told a news conference in Warsaw.
The EU mediators said the opposition was seeking last minute changes, but they still expected a deal to be signed on Friday. There were fist fights in parliament as the political tension mounted.
The sprawling nation of 46 million with a shattered economy and endemic corruption is at the center of a geopolitical tug-of-war between Russia and the European Union.
Whoever is going to run the Ukraine will have their hands full. S&P is warning that the political crisis "raises the prospect of a sovereign default."
All the momentum was on the protestors side before the deal was struck. Tremendous sympathy had been generated by the scores of protestor's deaths and their defiance had inspired the nation. Yanukovych knew this. The deal may be a sign of desperation on his part -a last bid to hang on to power. We should know in 24 hours whether the deal takes hold or not.