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Ukrainian protesters end occupation of City Hall

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 16, 2014 at 9:06 a.m.

KIEV, Ukraine — Anti-government demonstrators in Ukraine's capital ended their nearly three-month occupation of Kiev City Hall on Sunday as promised in exchange for the release of all jailed protesters. But tensions remained high as hundreds stayed outside the building, vowing to retake it if the government fails to drop all criminal charges against the protesters.

Prospects for an easing of the standoff between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych dimmed further when a top opposition leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, again turned down an offer to become prime minister in a coalition government.

Yanukovych is expected to nominate a new prime minister in the near future, and Western officials have been advocating for a coalition government drawn from the ruling party and the opposition. But, Yatsenyuk said, he would not agree to take the post, which Yanukovych offered to him last month, unless the president makes further concessions, including a constitutional reform that reduces presidential powers.

"I cannot be bought with posts, Mr. President. Go ahead and buy your henchmen," Yatsenyuk told the tens of thousands of protesters who turned out for the traditional Sunday demonstration.

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