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24 Jan, 2014 15:58

Ukrainian president ready for govt reshuffle and review of anti-protest laws

The Ukrainian president has promised a government reshuffle and amendments to the anti-protest laws that triggered violent clashes in Kiev.

Read RT's timeline of Ukrainian clashes

"We will make a decision at this session [on January 28]. I will sign a decree and we will reshuffle the government in order to find the best possible professional government team," Viktor Yanukovich said Friday as quoted by his press service.

The president has also pledged to amend the anti-protest laws signed on January 16 which sparked violent confrontations between protesters and riot police on Grushevskogo Street.

Kiev, January 24, 2014 (RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

“Experts will work on the issue regarding this and along with the opposition we will prepare compromise decisions, will vote in the parliament for these changes,” Yanukovich stressed during a meeting with church leaders.

In return for rioters leaving Grushevskogo Street - the epicenter of the unrest - Yanukovich on Thursday offered the release of those detained during the riots and mitigated penalties for protesters arrested in clashes.

On Friday, he confirmed his readiness to pardon all protesters involved in the riots, as long as they have not committed grave offenses.

A fragile ceasefire reigns in embattled Kiev, but unrest is spreading across the rest of Ukraine, with hundreds taking to the streets and seizing administration buildings.

During the six days of rioting, the opposition and the government were not reporting any substantial progress. On Thursday, despite it being the second day of talks with no concrete deal reached, the opposition still described their four-hour meeting with the goverment as “positive”, and said it would continue talks. The opposition's major demands are focusing on the government’s resignation and early elections.

The public responded to the meeting with new barricades on Independence Square. A group of protesters seized the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food headquarters nearby.

Kiev, January 24, 2014 (RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

Nevertheless, Friday has seen no major clashes in Kiev yet - for the first time this week. The protesters aren’t provoking police with attacks, but, at the same time, they are not standing idly by either. They are strengthening barricades and building new ones, and moving closer to presidential headquarters.

A total of more than 100 people were detained following mass riots in the city, Kiev authorities stated on Thursday. Hundreds more have sustained injuries. Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said about 256 police officers have been wounded, with 100 of them hospitalized.

In some cities, mostly in western Ukraine, protesters have attempted or seized local administration buildings, demanding governors’ resignations.

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Protesters seized the governors’ offices in the cities of Lvov, Ternopil, and Rivne, and administration buildings in Uzhgorod, Lutsk, Khmelnitsky, Zhitomir, and Sumy.

The regional parliament in the traditionally pro-Russian Crimean Peninsula appealed to President Yanukovich and the National Security and Defense Council to declare a state of emergency to end the “anarchy and violence” in Ukraine.

“We propose halting budget payments for regions that have waived the rule of law, until constitutional order is restored there,” the regional parliament said in a statement. “The very basis of a constitutional state and the whole system of state power is under threat."