KIEV. Ukrainian opposition leaders have signed a deal with the government to end a political crisis that will effectively strip the presidency of many of its powers and free from jail the opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko.
The pact, which was signed by the president, Viktor Yanukovich, and three main opposition leaders on Friday, paves the way for early elections and a shift in political power towards parliament.
In line with the deal, the parliament amended the criminal code in a move that will lead to the release of Tymoshenko, a leader of the 2004 “Orange revolution” who was jailed in 2011 on alleged corruption charges.
In another vote, Ukraine’s parliament dismissed Vitaly Zakharchenko, Ukraine’s acting interior minister, for using “violence” against protesters. The parliament also approved to return the country to its 2004 constitution, which limits the president’s powers and gives lawmakers the right to appoint key ministers.
Media reports from Kiev, said the emergency session of parliament effectively voted to strip the president of many powers and decriminalise charges against Tymoshenko.
“This will be a prime move. She was regarded as a heroine of the Orange revolution. Not only does it look like she will be released, it is highly likely she will return to politics.”
According to the agreement, a unity government is also expected to be formed in 10 days.
Further constitutional reform will be completed by September and new elections will be held no later than December with new electoral regulations. A joint commission will also launched an investigation into the recent violence.
The deal came a day after all-night talks mediated by the EU ministers in the country and clashes that killed at least 70 people.
Yanukovich announced that he backed the deal early on Friday morning.
Ukraine is the object of a geo-political tug-of-war between Moscow, which sees it as the historical cradle of Russian civilisation, and the West, which says Ukrainians should be free to choose economic rapprochement with the EU.
The protests by EU-supporters in the country have been going on since late November.
Russia, which has been holding back a new loan instalment until it sees stability in Kiev, has at various times condemned EU and US support of opposition demands that Yanukovich, elected in 2010, should share power and hold new elections.