Ukrainian president 'set to return after sick leave'

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich is set to return to work on Monday after a period of sick leave, a statement on the presidential website said. Thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered in central Kiev to demand his resignation.

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Beaten protester 'to leave Ukraine for treatment'

Ukrainian protester Dmytro Bulatov who claims he was tortured will be sent abroad for medical treatment, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko said after visiting him in hospital.

Ukrainian opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko. Credit: Reuters

Speaking outside of the hospital, Klitschko said: "Yesterday at the Munich conference German Foreign Minister Dr Steinmeier said that Germany was ready to provide medical assistance and treatment to Dmitry Bulatov.

"Now everything is done in that regard to finalize everything and give him a possibility to leave abroad for further treatment".

Read: Ukrainian protester 'cut and crucified by kidnappers'

Ukrainians gather to call for President's resignation

Thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered in Independence Square in central Kiev to demand the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Mr Yanukovych is set to return to work on Monday following a period of sick leave, a statement on the presidential website said.

Anti-government protesters attend a rally in Independence Square Credit: Reuters

Since November, there have been widespread opposition protests in the country after Mr Yanukovych's controversial decision to form closer economic ties with Russia instead of signing a trade deal with the European Union.

Ukrainian opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko addresses supporters at a rally Credit: Reuters

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Kerry: US and EU 'stand with people of Ukraine'

US Secretary of State John Kerry said both US and EU stand with people of Ukraine in their fight to choose partners.

The vast majority of Ukrainian people want to live freely in a safe and prosperous country. They are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations. And they have decided that that means their futures do not have to lie with one country alone and certainly not coerced.

– John Kerry, US Secretary of State

The top US diplomat was due to meet the Ukraine opposition leaders in Munich during a security summit.

"Our message to Ukraine's opposition will be the full support of President Obama and of the American people for their efforts," Mr Kerry said earlier.

The Ukrainian opposition has urged West to help bring a halt to the violence they blame on President Viktor Yanukovich.

Frontline clergy at the centre of Kiev's protests

During the two months of anti-government protests in Ukraine that call for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovich, the country's clergy has not been standing on the sidelines.

Priests lead daily prayers in the tent city at Independence Square and offer spiritual guidance to both protesters and police officers on both sides of the barricades.

Father Valery walks through the barricades Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

"For me religion is political, especially in this day and age, when religion is a question of conscience," said Orthodox Catholic priest Father Orest.

Father Valery and Father Orest Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Makeshift tent chapel in Kiev Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Another priest, Father Valery, joined the protest camp "to fight against the evils of corruption and political abuse by our leaders."

Read: Ukraine opposition urges West to help 'fix the violence'

Ukraine opposition urges West to help 'fix the violence'

The Ukrainian opposition has urged Europe and the United States to help bring a halt to the violence and alleged torture they blame on President Viktor Yanukovich.

What we need is not just declarations but a very clear action plan - how to fix the problem and fix the violence, how to investigate all these killings and abductions and tortures.

– Arseniy Yatsenyuk, opposition leader

Opposition leaders met German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Munich on Friday and are due to talk with US Secretary of State John Kerry today.

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Ukrainian protester 'cut and crucified by kidnappers'

An opposition activist who went missing in Ukraine has been found bloodied and beaten and claims kidnappers crucified him during a week-long torture ordeal.

Dmytro Bulatov said he was kept in the dark throughout as attackers nailed him to a cross, cut his face and sliced off a piece of his ear before dumping him in a forest eight days later.

The 35-year-old, who vanished on January 22, was found in a village near Kiev on Thursday and taken to hospital.

"There isn't a spot on my body that hasn't been beaten," he told local Channel 5 television. "Thank God I am alive."

Mr Bulatov was part of a group of car owners involved in protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who today signed an amnesty bill for protesters, due to come into force shortly.

An investigation into the attack on Mr Bulatov has been opened, though BBC News has reported a separate row has erupted after the protest leader was put on a police wanted list for allegedly organising mass unrest.

The footage below shows Mr Bulatov displaying his shocking injuries to TV reporters:

Ukrainian president takes sick leave amid crisis

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych has taken sick leave as the country's political crisis rumbles on.

A statement on the president's website reads, "The president of Ukraine is on sick leave due to acute respiratory disease accompanied by fever."

Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych.
Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych has 'an acute respiratory disease accompanied by fever'. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar

Yanukovych is under pressure to resign following two months of anti-government protests in the capital Kiev.

There was no indication of how long he might be on leave.

European prime ministers to meet over Ukraine crisis

The prime ministers of central European countries part of the Visegrad group are to hold a summit tomorrow to discuss the crisis situation in Ukraine, according to Slovakian government officials.

An anti-government protester waves a Ukranian flag
An anti-government protester waves a Ukranian flag near barricades at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev Credit: REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

The Visegrad group, made up of The Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland has called an extraordinary meeting of the prime ministers following the Ukrainian parliament's decision to back-track on controversial anti-protest legislation.

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich accepted the resignation of prime minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet, in the hope that a peaceful settlement can be found to end the unrest in the country.

Read: A pivotal and complex time lies ahead for Ukraine

Ukrainian president accepts PM's resignation

Viktor Yanukovich has accepted the resignation of prime minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet. Credit: Reuters

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich has accepted the resignation of prime minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet.

Earlier, Mr Azarov had offered his resignation in the hope that a peaceful settlement can be found to end the unrest in the country.

The president has ordered all ministers in the outgoing government to stay on as acting ministers until a new cabinet is formed.

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