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Ukraine: Political deal must lead to genuine restoration of democracy and human rights

21 February, 2014Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has today agreed to an early presidential election in a deal to end the violence which opposition medics believe killed at least 100 people on Thursday alone and has injured more than 500.

Following all-night talks with protestors, mediated by three European foreign ministers, the President agreed on 21 February to restore the 2004 constitution within the next 48 hours and form a national unity government in the next 10 days.

Constitutional reform to balance the power of the president, government and parliament will start immediately and the presidential election will be held no later than December 2014.

IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan stated:

Ukraine, its people and its trade unions have suffered greatly in the horrific violence of the past few days. We hope that with this new political deal, the Ukrainian government will put an immediate end to the bloodshed and focus all efforts on restoring democracy and human rights and constructing open dialogue with opposition groups. 

IndustriAll European Trade Union Deputy General Secretary Luc Triangle said:

One thing is clear, peaceful protest is part of any democratic society. Ukraine should come as soon as possible to a political compromise between the current President, government and the protesters. Our thoughts and support are with Ukraine, its people and its workers!

IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriAll European Trade Union are angered by the deadly violence against activists in Maidan Square, Kiev, and an arson attack that destroyed much of Trade Union House on the night of 18 February.

The trade union headquarter building housed the majority of IndustriALL affiliates. The fire destroyed important equipment, computers and documentation. Indications point to Ukraine’s special police unit “Berkut” as those who purposely destroyed the building. It was widely known that the building was being used to shelter demonstrators.

The world is constantly watching now as murdered demonstrators’ bodies are carried away from the area around the October Palace and Maidan Square, some lying dead on the pavement for hours before being taken away. Most of the dead were killed by police gunshots, even those wearing bulletproof vests were killed as police fired armour-piercing bullets.

Other deadly threats to protestors are police snipers stationed on the roofs of buildings around Maidan Square, and hired thugs known as “titusky” allegedly paid by the government. Arsenalna metro station is a grouping point for pro-government forces and demonstrators fear an attack from this area.

Similar civil unrest has been occurring throughout Ukraine, with angry crowds targeting buildings housing the government and heavy-handed security forces.