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Ukraine votes to remove president

On Saturday, the Ukrainian parliament [official website] voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich [official website; JURIST news archive]. The vote followed Yanukovich's statement that he would not be resigning despite current escalating violence. At least 25 individuals have been reported dead [WP report] and more than 240 injured, in protests that escalated when individuals began a march on Parliament in opposition of Yanukovich. The protests began peacefully in November, but became violent after the now repealed protest laws increased police power in cracking down on demonstrators. There will be an election in May to determine Yanukovich's replacement. His removal is aimed at achieving a peaceful resolution to the protests.

Ongoing protests in Kiev have continued for more than two months, prompting reactions from all sides of the conflict. This week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] called [JURIST report] for a peaceful resolution. Earlier in February leaders of Ukraine's anti-government protests pressed [JURIST report] Yanukovich for further concessions, including a return to the earlier constitution that would limit presidential powers, and a revival of the EU free trade agreement (FTA) [existing EU FTAs]. In January the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] called for an investigation [JURIST report] into torture allegations against Ukraine following widespread arrests of protesters. The statement came the day after Yanukovich offered amnesty to protesters [JURIST report] who were arrested and agree to meet certain conditions.

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