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Ukraine president cedes to European pressure and promises early elections; Kiev remains tense

Friday - 2/21/2014, 9:20am  ET

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's president has given in to pressure from European diplomats and is offering concessions to defuse the crisis that has divided his country and left scores dead.

After all-night negotiating in Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovych (yah-noo-KOH'-vich) announced early presidential elections and promised to bring opposition members into the government, though he didn't say when. He's also promising constitutional reforms that would trim presidential powers, which has been a key demand of protesters.

Despite the concessions, the capital remains tense today. Shots rang out near the protest camp and skeptical members of the opposition massed in central Kiev, divided over what to do next.

One lawmaker allied with the opposition tells The Associated Press the deaths of 77 people yesterday in clashes between police and protesters "changes the stakes," and nothing short of Yanukovych's immediate resignation will satisfy the protest movement. She says protesters will not abandon occupied buildings until after the constitution is changed.

%@AP Links

126-c-19-(Maria Danilova, AP correspondent)-"in December 2014"-AP correspondent Maria Danilova reports the office of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says the agreement would make concessions to restore the peace. (21 Feb 2014)

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127-c-10-(Maria Danilova, AP correspondent)-"of people injured"-AP correspondent Maria Danilova reports one sticking point with the opposition may be that the agreement is said to call for elections at the end of the year. (21 Feb 2014)

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128-c-10-(Maria Danilova, AP correspondent)-"fire against police"-AP correspondent Maria Danilova reports that even thought the Ukranian president's office says there's an agreement to end the battles between police and protesters, there has been more violence. (21 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO XMD116: A fire burns at the barricades on the outskirts of Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. Ukraine's presidency said Friday that it has negotiated an international deal intended to end battles between police and protesters that have killed scores and injured hundreds. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic) (21 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO XMD117: Anti-government protesters take a break on a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. Ukraine's presidency said Friday that it has negotiated an international deal intended to end battles between police and protesters that have killed scores and injured hundreds. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic) (21 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO XMD118: An anti-government protester sits on a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. Ukraine's presidency said Friday that it has negotiated an international deal intended to end battles between police and protesters that have killed scores and injured hundreds. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic) (21 Feb 2014)

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