People cheer as anti-government protesters arrive outside the Parliament in Kiev on February 22, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ LOUISA GOULIAMAKI
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Yanukovich abandoned the capital to the opposition on Saturday and denounced what he described as a coup after several days of bloodshed this week that claimed 82 lives.Removal of the pro-Russian Yanukovich should pull Ukraine away from Moscow's orbit and closer to Europe.Moscow had counted on Yanukovich to deliver Ukraine as a central member.Despite Yanukovich's defiance, the dismantling of his authority seemed all but complete. His cabinet promised a transition to a new government, the police declared themselves behind the protesters and his arch-rival Tymoshenko went free. Tymoshenko is a divisive figure in Ukraine, where many have become disillusioned with a political class they see as corrupt and elitist.Yanukovich enraged much of the population by turning away from the European Union to cultivate closer relations with Russia three months ago.The release of Tymoshenko transforms Ukraine by giving the opposition a single leader who may become president, although Klitschko and others also have claims.The EU had long considered her a political prisoner, and her freedom was one of the main demands it had for closer ties with Ukraine during years of negotiations that ended when Yanukovich turned towards Moscow in November.
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