- Title: UKRAINE: Ukraine authorities drop criminal charges againt protesters
- Date: 16th February 2014
- Summary: KIEV, UKRAINE (FEBRUARY 16, 2014) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS STANDING OUTSIDE CITY HALL MEN IN BALACLAVAS ENTERING CITY HALL ANTI-GOVERNMENT SELF-DEFENCE GROUP OUTSIDE CITY HALL MEMBERS OF SELF-DEFENCE UNIT RATTLING THEIR SHIELDS (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) MEMBER OF OPPOSITION SVOBODA PARTY, RUSLAN ANDRIYKO, SAYING: "I am congratulating you with victory, an amnesty has been announced. Two thousand of our brothers are now going to be free, congratulations on our common victory." CROWD CHEERING (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UNIDENTIFIED ANTI GOVERNMENT PROTESTER SAYING: "We for one do not believe, I don't believe, none of these people here believe a single word Pshonka says. We are ready to stand here and not take a step back." VARIOUS OF ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTERS WOMAN POURING TEA FOR MEMBERS OF SELF-DEFENCE
- Embargoed: 3rd March 2014 12:00
- Location: Ukraine
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: Legal System,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA7344ML6LJ6KHRBCZZIKTLSPC3
- Story Text: Ukraines general prosecutor announced on Sunday (February 16) evening that he would drop criminal charges against anti-government protesters as part of an amnesty deal designed to defuse street protests against the government of Viktor Yanukovich.
"The law will be implemented on the 17th of February 2014, meaning tomorrow 268 persons who are suspects will be freed from criminal responsibility, 108 criminal proceedings will be closed," Viktor Pshonka said.
The general prosecutor's website said the law would free from crimninal responsibility persons who committed crimes in relation to peaceful protest between the periods of December 27, 2013 to Feb 2. 2014.
Anti-government protesters had earlier vacated government buildings in different parts of Ukraine, fullling their end of the amnesty deal.
The government had set Monday (February 17) as the cut off date for demonstrators to vacate occupied public buildings and allow traffic through protester manned barricades. In exchange Ukrainian authorities said they would drop criminal charges against activists detained mostly in relation to participating in anti Yanukovich protests.
Ukrainian's prosecutror general on Friday (February 14) provisionally freed the last 234 detained protesters under the amnesty offer, but did not drop criminal charges against them at the time, something which anti-government activists and opposition parties demanded.
Early on Sunday, scores of anti-government protesters in Kiev fulfilled their part of the amnesty deal by ending their two-month-old occupation of city hall under the watchful eyes of international observers.
The Swiss ambassador to Ukraine, Christian Schoenenberger, served as an intermediary. He first signed an agreement with Ruslan Andreiko, representing the protesters, and then went inside the building to sign an agreement with the City Council representative, Mariyenko Volodimir.
Schoenenberger welcomed the move saying it was a positive step on both side.
Opposition deputies said protesters had similarly pulled out of municipal buildings in several areas of western Ukraine, a hotbed of opposition to Yanukovich, and in one part of the southeast where the president has retained more support.
Opposition sources said protesters had also agreed to ease blockages of traffic on a through road leading to government headquarters and parliament that was the flashpoint in January of violent clashes between riot police and radical activists.
But they said barricades would largely remain in place.
The Svoboda opposition party member Ruslan Andriyko who signed the Kiev city hall deal on behalf of the demonstrators welcome the prosecutor's announcement.
"I am congratulating you with victory, an amnesty has been announced. Two thousand (includes people who were detained without criminal proceeding) of our brothers are now going to be free, congratulations on our common victory," he told anti-government protesters outside city hall.
Other Yanukovich oppoenents were more skeptical of the announcement, though.
"We for one do not believe, I don't believe, none of these people here believe a single word Pshonka says. We are ready to stand here and not take a step back," one of the protesters said.
The unrest was sparked last November by Yanukovich when he spurned a free trade agreement long in the making with the European Union and opted for a $15 billion package of Russian credits and cheaper gas to help Ukraine's ailing economy.
At least six people have been killed in the unrest.
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