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Ukrainian president takes sick leave amid crisis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 file photo Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych speaks during a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Mykhailo Markiv, Pool)

In this Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 file photo Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych speaks during a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Mykhailo Markiv, Pool)

Kiev, AP—Ukraine’s embattled president Viktor Yanukovych is taking sick leave as the country’s political crisis continues without signs of resolution.

A statement on the presidential website Thursday said Yanukovych has an acute respiratory illness and high fever. There was no indication of how long he might be on leave or whether he would be able to do any work.

Yanukovych is under pressure after two months of major protests seeking his resignation, early elections and other demands.

In one of a series of moves aiming at resolving the crisis, the parliament this week voted for the repeal of harsh anti-protest laws. Yanukovych must formally sign that repeal. He also has accepted the resignation of his prime minister. But protesters say the moves are insufficient.

Yanukovych made a late-night visit to the parliament on Wednesday before it passed a measure offering amnesty to some of those arrested in two months of protests, but only if demonstrators vacate most of the buildings they occupy. The offer was quickly greeted with contempt by the opposition.

But the opposition regards the arrests during the protests—328 by one lawmaker’s count—as fundamentally illegitimate.

“Is this a compromise, or are these political prisoners,” said 30-year-old Artem Sharai, demonstrating on Kiev’s central Independence Square. “We will seize new buildings, if the authorities don’t really change the situation in the country.”

Protesters are demanding Yanukovych’s resignation, early elections and the firing of authorities responsible for violent police dispersals of demonstrators. The protests started after Yanukovych backed out of a long-awaited agreement to deepen ties with the European Union, but quickly came to encompass a wide array of discontent over corruption, heavy-handed police and dubious courts.

The bill would not apply to several city buildings in the center of Kiev which the protesters use as dormitories and operation centers, and are key support facilities for the extensive protest tent camp on the main square. With temperatures dropping as low as -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) during the night, continuing the protests without places to shelter would be virtually impossible.

But the Kiev city hall building, as well as regional administration ones seized by protesters in western Ukrainian cities, will have to be vacated, according to the Unian news agency.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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