Ukraine’s President Offers Premiership to Opposition Leader

Viktor Yanukovych makes concessions amid protests and heavy violence

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Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

An anti-government protester uses a large sling shot during clashes with police on Hrushevskoho Street near Dynamo stadium on Jan. 25, 2014 in Kiev.

Ukraine’s beleaguered president offered the country’s premiership to an opposition leader Saturday, as violent clashes took hold of the capital.

President Viktor Yanukovych offered the country’s No. 2 political position to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, but it’s unclear whether the opposition leader will take up the offer, the Associated Press reports. “The people decide our leaders, not you,” Yatsenyuk wrote on Twitter. The president also offered boxing champion and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko the position of deputy premier.

Earlier Saturday Ukraine’s police head claimed that two officers that were captured and tortured and threatened to recapture the Kiev city hall, but protestors deny ever having held any police officers in the building they captured nearly two months ago and turned into a headquarters and dormitory. Meanwhile, anti-government protests raged through the Kiev streets Saturday morning where demonstrators briefly captured the headquarters of the energy ministry.

Three protestors have died in the week since Yanukovych passed harsh anti-protest laws, two from gunshot wounds and a third of unspecified injuries.

President Viktor Yanukovych offered minor concessions to the opposition Friday but refused to call early elections and resign, setting off further violent clashes. While protests have been centered in Kiev, demonstrations have occurred sporadically in other parts of Ukraine where support for Yanukovych is weak.

Protests began in November when Yanukovych favored closer economic ties with Russia over a free trade agreement with the European Union.