February 21st, 2014
09:35 AM ET

Ukraine Protesters Buoyant as Deal to End Crisis Nears

Ukraine's President agreed Friday to give up some of his powers and schedule early elections, raising hopes that a truce would hold after days of deadly fighting between anti-government protesters and security forces.

After a night of difficult negotiations that stretched into the afternoon, foreign ministers from Germany and Poland said opposition leaders had agreed to the deal to end the crisis, which began in November with anger about President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to scrap a European Union-oriented trade deal and turn toward Russia.

It escalated this week with fierce fighting that the government says has claimed 78 lives and drew swift rebuke from the West. Protesters put the death toll at about 128.

"We are about to sign," Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Twitter. "Good compromise for Ukraine. Gives peace a chance. Opens the way to reform and to Europe."

Earlier, opposition leader and former boxer Vitali Klitschko said protesters must keep the pressure on the government.

"We must do everything to stop the confrontation, and the people who gave illegal orders will be brought to justice," he said.

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