21 February 2014
MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti) – US Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Ukraine’s president and the opposition to jointly establish an interim government to put an end to violence in the streets of the capital that has claimed at least 77 lives.
Kerry in a statement lamented what he described as scenes of “senseless death” and condemned the use of violence against civilians by security forces in Kiev.
“President (Viktor) Yanukovych must undertake serious negotiations with opposition leaders immediately to establish a new interim government that will have broad support. That is the only way to begin the difficult but essential constitutional and economic reforms that Ukraine needs,” Kerry said.
US Vice President Joe Biden also weighed in Thursday, telling Yanukovych to work with the opposition to address the legitimate aspirations of the Ukrainian people and order a withdrawal of all security forces.
The increasingly intransigent standoff between the government and opposition took a bloody turn Tuesday when a crowd marching on parliament was confronted by law enforcement officers.
Reuters cited an EU source as saying Friday morning that negotiations between EU foreign ministers, Yanukovych, opposition leaders and lawmakers to settle the political crisis were nearing an end.
Russia’s outgoing rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin arrived in Kiev early Friday to try to mediate talks.
No clashes were reported Friday on central Kiev’s Independence Square, where months of anti-government protests have been held and close to where most people have been killed this week.
By the latest Health Ministry estimates, 577 people have sought medical aid, although the actual number of people injured is believed to be much greater.