Ukraine is on the brink of “civil war” as a result of the standoff between authorities and protesters across the country, its first post-independence president, Leonid Kravchuk, told parliament on Wednesday.
“All the world acknowledges and Ukraine acknowledges that the state is on the verge of civil war,” Mr Kravchuk told parliament in an emotional address.
“There are parallel authorities in the country and there is a de-facto uprising,” said Mr Kravchuk, referring to anti-government protesters who had ousted Kiev authorities and taken control of regional administrations in several parts of the country.
“It is a revolution. It is a dramatic situation in which we must act with the greatest responsibility,” he told deputies, who gave him a standing ovation.
“We need to ease the confrontation between the sides and agree a plan to solve the conflict. We need to work on this plan step by step to ease the confrontation,” he added.
Mr Kravchuk, who was Ukraine’s president from 1991-1994, has for several weeks been leading roundtable talks aimed at finding a solution to the crisis.
His successors as president Leonid Kuchma (1994-2005) and Viktor Yushchenko (2005-2010) were also present in parliament, in a sign to lawmakers of the importance of the session.
Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, had earlier opened the second day of an extraordinary session aimed at easing tensions with protesters, debating an amnesty for dozens of activists arrested in the unrest.