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Published: Thursday January 23, 2014 MYT 10:25:09 PM
Updated: Thursday January 23, 2014 MYT 10:25:09 PM

Ukraine's Yanukovich calls emergency parliament session to end crisis

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Thursday called for an emergency session of parliament to end the crisis in the country which has brought thousands of anti-government protesters on to the streets and caused violent clashes with police.

"Mass unrest has been accompanied by violence, bloodshed, fires. That means that today the situation must be settled immediately," the presidential website quoted Yanukovich as telling parliament speaker Volodymyr Rybak.

Yanukovich's words, as he sat down to a fresh round of talks with opposition leaders, were the first signs of a possible willingness to make concessions to the opposition, which has been calling for the dismissal of Yanukovich's government over heavy-handed police tactics in two months of street unrest.

Speaker Rybak added to the sense of compromise, saying the emergency session, which would be held early next week, could consider the opposition's call for the government of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov to step down.

Rybak also said "questions linked to laws passed by parliament" could be discussed - apparently a reference to sweeping anti-protest laws rammed through parliament last week by Yanukovich loyalists.

These laws only served to boost mass demonstrations on the streets of Kiev at the weekend, leading to violent clashes with police, and the opposition is demanding they be repealed.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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