The press office of Viktor Yanukovych announced Thursday that the President of Ukraine would take a sick leave for an indefinite period of time, prompting uncertainty amid continuing tensions in Ukraine.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Ukraine’s president and his opponents accused one another of sabotaging efforts to end the political crisis Thursday, as an unexpected presidential sick leave further damped hopes for compromise.

President Viktor Yanukovych’s absence was quickly denounced by his opponents as a case of executive malingering in a country where politicians have in the past delayed one another in parliament by throwing eggs, padlocking the doors and body-blocking the rostrum.

The Ukrainian president’s office issued a statement saying Mr. Yanukovych, 63, is taking time off from work because of a fever and respiratory illness. The statement did not indicate when he would return to work.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government resigned on Tuesday, in an attempt to appease protesters.  Parliament also voted to repeal or modify many of the anti-protest laws that had been passed in mid-January and sparked escalating violence.

But Yanukovych must sign the repeal from Parliament and it is not known whether or not that would occur while he is on sick leave, according to the Associated Press.

Just after the announcement of his sick leave, the president of Ukraine defended his handling of the ongoing crisis there.

From CNN:

President Viktor Yanukovych defended his government’s handling of the political crisis in Ukraine on Thursday, saying that it had “fulfilled all its obligations” and that opposition leaders were stoking people’s anger for their own gain.

The opposition “continues to escalate the situation” and to encourage people to maintain their protests in the icy streets, he said in an address posted on his website.

“I think that is wrong. We must understand that there is no future for the state and people if political interests of certain groups are set higher than the existence of Ukraine itself.”

Yanukovych insisted the government had lived up to “concrete agreements” reached with the opposition to try to end the crisis. “The government has fulfilled all its obligations under these agreements, including the adoption of the Law on Amnesty that guarantees freedom and liberation of persons arrested during the conflict,” he said.

The issue of amnesty however remained a sticking point for protesters, as it is tied to conditions that they vacate occupied buildings and dismantle encampments and barricades – conditions protesters oppose.  It also stipulated that after 15 days, if buildings weren’t cleared out then police would take action to clear them, according to the NY Times.

Despite any concessions to date, protesters have also previously indicated they want the president to resign and new elections to be held.

(Featured image: Reuters video via CNN)


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