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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
KYIV, UKRAINE (BosNewsLife)– Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich on Thursday, February 21, called for a national unity government and early presidential elections, after violence between anti-government protesters and police killed as many as 100 people.
Ukraine’s embattled leader made the announcement following overnight talks involving Foreign Ministers from Germany, France, Poland and a Russian envoy, and the European Union’s decision to impose sanctions against those deemed responsible for the bloodshed.
It was not immediately whether it would be enough to restore calm in the bloodstained streets of Kyiv where Ukrainians have begun burying their dead.
At least scores of anti-government protesters and police were killed in the bloodiest violence since Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
There are also reports of unrest in other cities.
President Yanukovich is under mounting pressure amid reports that even close allies openly question is leadership style. And brushing aside Russian criticism, the EU agreed to go ahead with sanctions that include travel bans and asset freezes imposed on those deemed responsible for the fatal escalation of violence in Ukraine.
British Foreign Minister William Hague suggested that the measures would sends a strong message to Ukrainian authorities.
“It is not right to describe protesters as terrorists. A great many of them ofcourse are simply seeking a better future for their country. There has to be an international response to what has happened over the last few days and that is why we will be discussing sanctions…” he said.
Thursday’s decision came a day after the United States announced some similar moves, including travel bans on 20 government officials.
The foreign ministers of the 28-nation EU said they would also devise a list of those who would be subject to the European sanctions, which would also include a ban on the export of weapons and other equipment likely to be used for repression in Ukraine.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton disagrees with Russian suggestions that the violence was caused by radical demonstrators.
“The responsibility to stop the violence rests squarely with those in power, and we urge them to do so as quickly as possible,” she told reporters.
In Kyiv three EU ministers have also talked about the immediate future of troubled Ukraine with both the opposition and the president.
Besides early presidential and parliamentary elections, measures would include establishing an interim government and constitutional changes limiting the power of the president.
Amid the chaos, churches have urged to pray for Ukraine, while mission group Russian Ministries, announce plans to distribute 100,000 copies of the Gospel of John in Ukrainian to meet spiritual needs of protesters and other concerned people
Churches are also also involved to help treat the many wounded, with a Cathedral opening its doors as a makeshift hospital.
The Caritas Ukraine aid group praised protest medics for treating hundreds of iunjured people, but warned many of the wounded will need long-term care, including prosthetics.