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Ukraine Opposition Leader Can Be PM: President

Move puts former foreign minister in tight spot
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 25, 2014 3:20 PM CST
Ukraine Opposition Leader Can Be PM: President
Protesters stand behind a barricade in front of riot police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

(Newser) – Ukraine's embattled president today offered to make a top opposition leader the prime minister, but it was unclear if the overture would mollify the radical faction of protesters who have clashed with police for much of the last week. The offer by President Viktor Yanukovych to make Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former foreign minister, the premier could be seen as either a concession to the opposition or as a strategy to put it in a bind, caught between a compromise-seeking European Union and angry protesters who don't want to back down. Fellow opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, meanwhile, was offered a deputy premiership.

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Yatsenyuk says the opposition is ready to accept leadership of the country, but he isn't immediately accepting Yanukovych's offer. Yanukovych also agreed to discuss ways of changing Ukraine's constitution toward a parliamentary-presidential republic, which was one of the demands of the opposition. The change would mean a more powerful PM would be elected by parliament, not appointed by the president. The offer came hours after the head of the country's police, widely despised by the opposition, claimed protesters had seized and tortured two policemen before releasing them. The opposition denied any such seizure. (Read more Ukraine stories.)

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