Ukraine leader announces early presidential elections

Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych on Friday announced early presidential elections and a return to an earlier constitution in concessions aimed at finding an end to the bloody political crisis gripping the country, RIA Novosti reports.

Measures agreed in nightlong negotiations with opposition leaders that were overseen by a group of EU envoys, lawmakers and a Kremlin-appointed mediator also include the formation of a unity government.

“I am announcing steps needed to restore peace and avoid further victims of the standoff,” Yanukovych said in a national address.

Authorities and opposition have traded accusations over who instigated the latest round of violence, which erupted Tuesday after a crowd marched toward parliament intent on storming the building.

Fighting between radical anti-government protesters and police has claimed at least 80 lives over three days, according to the Interior Ministry.

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