Ukraine's Yanukovich to return, opposition demands change
Ukraine's embattled president Viktor Yanukovich announced he would return to work after four days' sick leave, as protesters filled Kiev's main square demanding he give up power.
Opposition leaders, addressing the crowd on their return home from meeting European and US officials, said they hoped for international mediation in negotiations with the government and for constitutional change to limit presidential power.
Calling for a complete change of leadership after weeks of crisis that have divided the country and set the West against Yanukovich's Russian allies, opposition figures who attended a security conference in Munich told supporters they would secure international economic aid if they were able to take power.
Yanukovich, who angered opponents in November by spurning a trade pact with the European Union and turning instead to Moscow for financial support, announced on Thursday he was on sick leave and has not been seen in public since.
Critics saw in that a tactic to deflect pressure for political compromise. On Friday, he signed legislation revoking unpopular new restrictions on protest meetings that has, however, failed to appease opponents who are demanding the release of dozens of people arrested in recent weeks.
A presidential statement said Yanukovich planned to return to work tomorrow after an acute respiratory infection: "After undergoing required treatment, the president of Ukraine feels well and his health is satisfactory," it quoted a state medical official, Oleksandr Orda, as saying.