Yanukovych says he will scrap anti-protest law

Associated Press
A Ukrainian man stands in protest in front of gunmen in unmarked uniforms as they stand guard in Balaklava, on the outskirts of Sevastopol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014. An emblem on one of the vehicles and their number plates identify them as belonging to the Russian military. Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of sending new troops into Crimea, a strategic Russia-speaking region that hosts a major Russian navy base. The Kremlin hasn’t responded to the accusations, but Russian lawmakers urged Putin to act to protect Russians in Crimea. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)
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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's beleaguered president on Monday agreed to scrap harsh anti-protest laws that set off a wave of clashes between protesters and police over the past week.

In a statement on the presidential website, Justice Minister Elena Lukash says that in a meeting with top opposition figures and President Viktor Yanukovych on Monday night, "a political decision was made on scrapping the laws of Jan. 16, which aroused much discussion."

Yanukovych pushed those laws through parliament and three days later clashes with police broke out, a sharp escalation of tensions after weeks of mostly peaceful protests.

Eliminating the laws, which is likely to be done in a special parliament session Tuesday, would be a substantial concession to the opposition. But it does not meet all their demands, which include Yanukovych's resignation.

One of the opposition figures, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, turned down the prime minister's job, which Yatsenyuk had offered him on Saturday.

At that time, he said protests would continue. In the Monday meeting, Yanukovych said a proposed amnesty for arrested protesters would not be offered unless demonstrators stopped occupying buildings and ended their round-the-clock protests and tent camp on Kiev's central square.

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