After an announcement just last week that he’d be taking an indefinite sick leave, the President of Ukraine returned on Monday, as the political crisis continues there.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich returned to work on Monday after four days of sick leave, issuing a warning about rising “radicalism” after more than two months of unrest on the streets but giving no word on a new prime minister.
Yanukovich, caught in a tug of war between Russia and the West, is seeking a way out of a sometimes violent confrontation with protesters who have occupied city streets and public buildings following his decision in November to spurn a trade deal with the EU and accept financial aid from Moscow.
As he returned to work, looking in fair health, a day before a new session of parliament, the political opposition took heart from fresh expressions of support from Western governments and pressed for more concessions to end protests.
However, the European Union, whose foreign policy chief is due in Kiev late on Tuesday, played down suggestions it was working with the United States on a large-scale aid package aimed at nursing the economy through a political transition.
It remains an uncertain situation upon Yanukovich’s return.
From the NY Times:
Mr. Yanukovych, who has faced a sustained civil uprising since late November, when he backed away from a promise to sign political and free-trade accords with the European Union, has seen his position erode substantially in recent days.
Support he had been relying on from Russia — particularly $15 billion in credit that Ukraine desperately needs to cover basic expenses — was suspended last week by the Kremlin, which expressed pointed displeasure over the growing political uncertainty in Ukraine. And the forced resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and the rest of the cabinet on Tuesday showed Mr. Yanukovych sacrificing some of his staunchest political allies, in a failed bid to appease his critics by offering them senior positions.
Indeed, among the tasks Yanukovich faces is what to do about the position of Prime Minister, from which Mykola Azarov resigned last week as a concession to protesters. And in another concession to the opposition, many of the recently passed anti-protest laws had been repealed or modified, but protesters continue to oppose conditions that would require them to vacate occupied government buildings and dismantle barricades, according to CNN.
Protesters and opposition leaders meanwhile continue to call for the president’s resignation, new elections and constitutional reforms that would weaken the power of the president.
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