KIEV: Protesters occupying Kiev city hall said on Saturday they stood “ready” to vacate the premises, in a gesture of goodwill after authorities released all those detained in the anti-government unrest rocking the country.
The “headquarters of the revolution” since the protest movement rocking Ukraine began more than two months ago, the building where 600 to 700 protesters camp out is highly symbolic and the concession comes ahead of a fresh, mass demonstration due on Sunday.
But in a strongly worded interview, jailed opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko warned that nothing short of President Viktor Yanukovych’s resignation would satisfy protesters, up in arms over his decision to ditch an EU pact in favour of closer ties with Russia.
Speaking to AFP on Saturday, Yuriy Syrotyuk, the number-two of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party that controls the occupied city hall, said protesters stood “ready” to evacuate, and could do so “in a few minutes, at most half-an-hour” if the green light was given. The evacuation of the building was one of the conditions set by authorities as part of an amnesty law that stipulates all detained protesters will be freed — but only if some parts of the Ukrainian capital are vacated.
Yanukovych approved the law at the beginning of February after protests in Kiev turned deadly, shocking the country and prompting the shaken president to start negotiating with the opposition. On Friday, authorities announced they had freed all 234 detained members of the protest movement, adding that charges against them would also be dropped if conditions of the amnesty were met.
Some of them have been charged with fomenting mass unrest, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in jail.
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