Ukrainian President And Opposition Sign Deal To End Crisis

Parliament also votes to release Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and Ukraine’s most famous political prisoner.

1. Updated – 12:28 p.m., ET

2. KIEV, Ukraine — Leaders of Ukraine’s opposition signed a deal Friday with President Viktor Yanukovych and European mediators to put an end to the country’s bloody crisis. The deal includes early presidential elections and a new government.

AP Photo / AP video

The deal calls for early presidential elections by the end of the year, rather than in March 2015 as scheduled. It also calls for a return to Ukraine’s old constitution, which sharply limited the president’s powers.

Hours after it was signed, Ukraine’s parliament voted to fire the interior minister, Vitaly Zakharchenko, who had been blamed for overseeing the deadly violence that has plagued Kiev this week. Parliament then voted to release Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovych’s chief rival and the country’s most famous political prisoner, by decriminalizing the charge under which she had been jailed more than two years ago.

The flurry of activity came as Ukraine attempted to wind down a political crisis that has seen at least 75 people killed since the start of the week, including protesters shot by sniper fire.

The deal signed between the opposition and Yanukovych on Friday states that the Ukrainian government will not impose a state of emergency and that both sides will refrain from violence. It also says that opposition protesters should leave any buildings and protest camps they’ve occupied, as well as hand over their weapons. It was unclear whether the protesters on the streets of Kiev would comply. The leader of a radical opposition group, Pravy Sektor, has reportedly said he doesn’t believe the president will honor the deal and “the national revolution will continue.”

The deal followed all-night talks between European diplomats, Yanukovych, and the opposition. Russia’s representative to the talks, Vladimir Lukin, declined to sign the deal.

4. After the initial announcement President Yanukovych announced on his website there would be early presidential elections and promised to form a coalition government.

As the president of Ukraine and the guarantor of the Constitution, today I am fulfilling my duty before the people, before Ukraine and before God in the name of saving the nation, in the name of preserving people’s lives, in the name of peace and calm of our land.

Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

6. The parliament session convened to end the crisis quickly descended into a huge shouting match.

Max Seddon / BuzzFeed

7. Opposition lawmaker Lesya Orobets posted a photo of police armed with automatic weapons in parliament. They were later forced out of the building.

8. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry released a statement saying that protesters attempting to storm parliament opened fire on police Friday morning.

The report did not mention whether police retreated or returned fire. A Kyiv Post reporter on the scene soon afterward tweeted that things were peaceful.

Despite reports of gunshots, @KyivPost reporter on Institutska says no shooting. No policemen. Only police trucks blocking roadway #Ukraine

— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM)

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