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Ukraine parliament discuss possible amnesty for protesters

The Verkhovna Rada [official website], the Parliament of Ukraine continued [press release] an extraordinary session Wednesday to discuss amnesty for protesters arrested during the weeks of unrest that have gripped the nation. One of the amnesty proposals being considered by lawmakers would grant amnesty [AP report] on the condition that protesters disband street protests and vacate buildings seized. In the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, protesters have constructed a tent city in the city's major square, the Maidan [Forbes backgrounder] and maintain control over three buildings including the Department of Agriculture. Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk [Twitter profile] has criticized the proposal stating that protesters will not leave until conditions to amnesty are dropped. Earlier this week embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych [official website; JURIST news archive] offered [BBC report] the post of prime minister to Yatsenyuk, while Yatsenyuk has maintained calls for new presidential elections.

Protests began in November after the Ukrainian government abandoned [JURIST report] a proposed trade pact [EU backgrounder] with the EU.Tensions were further exacerbated when President Yanukovych signed [JURIST report] a series of laws [materials] earlier this month that limit the right to protest government actions. Earlier this week In response to the escalating civil unrest in the country, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned from office [JURIST report] as Parliament repealed the harsh anti-protest laws passed earlier this month. Also in January, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] issued statements [JURIST report] urging Ukrainian protesters to use restraint and calling on both the government and protesters to work towards constructive dialogue to diffuse the rising tension and violence that has gripped the nation. The European Union (EU) [official website] has also urged [JURIST report] Ukraine's government to repeal a series of laws [materials] that limit the right to protest government actions.

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