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Ukraine's Yanukovych is back at work as street protests continue

Meanwhile, Russia called on Ukraine's opposition to stop what it called 'threats and ultimatums.'

Ukraine protests february 3 2014Enlarge
Activists of anti-government opposition attend a mass rally in Kyiv on February 2, 2014. Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Ukraine on Sunday in a bid to wring new concessions from President Viktor Yanukovych. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych 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 anti-government street protests.

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

Yanukovych'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 January 28 under pressure from the protest movement.

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

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Opposition presses for more concessions

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

Yanukovych is seeking a way out of a crisis, where thousands of protesters have seized control of Kyiv's city center and streets in other regions of Ukraine. At times, the conflict has flared into violent clashes between radicals and riot police.

At least six people have been killed.

The opposition is seeking a broader amnesty in which all those detained would be released.

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Russia calls on opposition to stop threats

Meanwhile, Russia called on the opposition to stop what it called "threats and ultimatums."

"We expect the opposition in Ukraine to renounce threats and ultimatums and revitalize a dialogue with the authorities with a view to taking the country out of a deep crisis and into a constitutional sphere," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Europe and the United States on Monday mulled a financial aid plan as part of a political solution to Ukraine's crisis.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is expected in Kyiv this week, told The Wall Street Journal that the exact amount had not been decided yet but said "the figures won't be small."

She said the plan, which could be discussed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on next Monday, would look at "what we need to do in different parts of the economy right now to make things better."

The minimum required, according to opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, is $15 billion (11 billion euros) — the same amount promised by Russia's bailout that is currently on hold due to the political crisis.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/140203/ukraines-yanukovych-back-at-work-street-protests-continue