KIEV: The Ukrainian opposition has given a 24-hour ultimatum to President Viktor Yanukovych to announce early elections or face more popular rage in the country.
Vitaly Klitschko, the leader of the opposition political party Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, while speaking at a mass rally at the capital Kiev’s Independence Square, urged the president to end the current standoff by calling early elections.
“Early elections will change the situation without bloodshed and we will do everything to achieve that,” said Klitschko, adding, “Tomorrow (Thursday) if the president does not respond… then we will go on the attack.”
The ultimatum was issued after at least five persons were killed and hundreds more injured in the deadly clashes which broke out on Wednesday between anti-government protesters and the security forces after the police began removing barricades set up by the demonstrators on Kiev’s central Grushevsky Street.
The Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich held negotiation with the opposition leaders and a working group in the presidential administration building, but the talks failed to resolve the political stalemate.
The new fighting erupted after on Tuesday, an anti-protest law brought by the government came into effect in the former Soviet Republic which bans any unauthorized installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places, triggering a strong condemnation from the opposition and the western counties.
Meanwhile, the United States and the European Union called for an immediate end to the violence, warning they would take action against the Ukrainian authorities.
The violent protests were triggered in Kiev after the government refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, on November 29 last year in favor of closer ties with Russia.
Later, Ukraine and Russia reached a strategic economic and trade deal last December, which provides Ukraine with significant discounts on imported Russian gas and billions of dollars in credit.