By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych met with anti-government opposition forces on Friday to sign a deal that ended the unrest that’s split the country. The president’s powers would be limited, while increasing the influence of parliament (which is like our Congress), and protesters promised to leave buildings they’d taken over in exchange for security forces being less aggressive. However, hours after Yanukovych left the capital, parliament voted Saturday to remove him, set new elections for May 25, and release the imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Russia, who had supported the president, criticized the move as a band of extremists taking over the government, while US and European powers praised the decision. Since there is a tug-of-war between the West and Russia over the Ukraine, this conflict paints a bigger picture about global influence. The whole struggle began when the Ukrainian president chose economic aid from Russia instead of Europe in November, leading anti-government and pro-European protesters to occupy buildings and clash with security forces for months.
Political allies of Yanukovych began abandoning him, despite his claims that he refused to surrender power. Then, on Monday, the new Ukrainian leaders ordered the arrest of the former president and several high-ranking officials for their part in the deaths of civilian protesters.
Until new elections can be held, the speaker of parliament (its leader), Oleksander Turchynov, will serve as acting head of state until elections can be held.
Images courtesy of Klitschko.