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Yanukovych Tells U.S. Envoy He Supports Constitutional Reform

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (center, in file photo)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (center, in file photo)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has told a visiting U.S. envoy that he is open to talks with the opposition and is in favor of constitutional reform -- one of the key demands of the pro-EU protests.

But Yanukovych reportedly told U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland that amending the constitution must follow legal steps.

The president's website said such steps would involve the Constitutional Court and further hearings in parliament.

Yanukovych was quoted as saying that "It is only through dialogue and compromise that we can carry the country out of this political crisis."

The website said Yanukovych also told Nuland he backed moves to speed up the process of releasing activists detained in the civil unrest. Yanukovych has supported a law that offers amnesty for detainees only on condition that occupied public buildings are cleared of protesters.

Yanukovych later left Ukraine to attend the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

He is expected to have talks there with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nuland earlier on February 6 met with Ukrainian opposition leaders in a bid to end the standoff between the government and antigovernment protesters.

Nuland -- who is on a two-day visit to Ukraine -- held talks with Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Oleh Tyahnybok.

The talks came as some 2,000 thousand protesters marched to the parliament to demand that legislators amend the constitution. Marchers were carrying a banner reading, "We are tired of waiting."

However, the parliament failed again to pass constitutional amendments that would curb presidential powers.

Meanwhile, a man was injured in central Kyiv when a package exploded in a building occupied by antigovernment protesters. Police said the man had his hand blown off in the explosion. Unconfirmed reports said a Molotov cocktail bottle accidentally exploded inside the building.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and

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