The Niagara Falls Review
Opposition seeks to curtail power
Constitutional challenge could weaken Ukraine president
KIEV — Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich, battling mass unrest against his rule, faced demands from the opposition on Tuesday for a constitutional change that would seriously curtail his powers
Yanukovich was still weighing who to name as his new prime minister to calm the crisis on the streets. Rumours swirled that he could be considering his powerful hardline chief of staff Andriy Klyuev.
Vitaly Klitschko, the boxer-turnedpolitician who is one of the main opposition leaders, came out of a meeting with the president accusing him of courting more unrest by stalling.
“The head of state is taking an irresponsible position because, by his actions, he is provoking people to take radical action and the democratic world to take sanctions,” he said.
As the Ukrainian central bank intervened again to stop heavy demand for dollars weakening the hryvnia currency, Ukraine sharply criticized European Union heavyweight Germany after its foreign minister said sanctions should be used as a threat unless a political solution was found soon to end the crisis.
At least six people have been killed in the past two weeks in unprecedented politically linked violence in Kiev, whose centre is now a heavily-barricaded fortified protest zone.
Ukraine quickly reacted after German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier raised the issue of sanctions.
The foreign ministry called in Ber- lin’s ambassador to Kiev and said later in a statement: “It was emphasized that there was a need for an objective assessment of the development of the internal political processes of the situation in our state and that provocative statements should be avoided.”
Fierce clashes between riot police and squads of radical protesters have prompted global concern that the ex-Soviet republic, a large buffer territory of 46 million people between Russia and the EU, might plunge into civil war.
Though there has been no vio- lence in Kiev for several days, western governments have warned Yanukovich that it risks flaring up again unless he can find a compromise with the opposition.
Yanukovich triggered the uprising on the streets last November when he walked away from a trade deal with the EU in favour of closer economic ties with Russia.
Though his move was rewarded with a $ 15- billion offer of credits and cheap gas from Moscow for Ukraine’s ailing economy, it provoked outrage among millions of Ukrainians who dream of a Euro- pean future for their country.
Yanukovich, according to reported comments by a political ally, has said he will not use force to clear the streets, where hundreds of protesters are camped out on Independence Square or in occupied municipal buildings.