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Ukraine's Yanukovich returns to work, street protests go on

Anti-government protesters attend a rally in Independence Square in central Kiev February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

KIEV: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich returned to his desk on Monday after four days of sick leave, while the political opposition pressed for further concessions from him to end more than two months of street protests against his rule.

"He is back at work," a presidential spokesman said.

Yanukovich is seeking a way out of a confrontation with thousands of protesters who have seized control of Kiev's city centre in a conflict which has at times flared into violent clashes between radicals and riot police.

At least six people have been killed.

Yanukovich's first urgent task, after returning from an absence some saw as a tactical gambit to gain time, is to name a new prime minister to succeed Mykola Azarov, who stepped down on Jan. 28 under pressure from the protest movement.

In other concessions, Yanukovich last week approved the repeal of recent anti-protest laws and offered a conditional amnesty to activists who have been detained in the unrest.

But opposition leaders, who have received huge backing from the United States and EU governments, were pressing on Monday for further concessions.

With parliament due to meet on Tuesday, the opposition were seeking a broader amnesty in which all those detained would be released and the return to the previous constitution which would mean Yanukovich's presidential powers being diminished.

 

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