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Ukraine signs peace deal, calls for early elections

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Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych signed a pact with opposition leaders today that will reform the government in hopes of ending the violent conflict that has left dozens dead over the last several days. There's no guarantee that the mass of Ukrainian protestors, who the opposition leaders effectively speak for, will stand down following the EU-brokered agreement, but the deal provides several key concessions from the government: a reversion to an earlier version of the country's constitution, a balancing of powers between the president and parliament, and early elections for a new state leader.

"There are no steps that we must not do together to restore peace in Ukraine."

The pact also called for authorities and the opposition to refrain from the use of violence and to make serious efforts toward returning to a normal way of life. Both were asked to withdraw from their occupation of public buildings and spaces and to hand over illegal weapons to a government body within no more than a few days. Protests began around three months ago after Yanukovych spurned a deal that would move Ukraine closer to the EU, and in recent days, protests have climaxed as protestors and authorities entered a standoff. The country reportedly says that 77 have been killed this week.

"In these tragic days, when Ukraine suffered such heavy losses, when people died on both sides of the conflict, I consider it my duty to the bright memory of the deceased to declare that there is nothing more important than human life," Yanukovych says in a statement. "There are no steps that we must not do together to restore peace in Ukraine." While protestors may have been hoping to see Yanukovych step away immediately, elections for a new leader will be held by the end of the year. The New York Times reports that elections were originally scheduled for March of 2015.