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Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych 'flees Kiev' as protesters take over government buildings

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti - government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti - government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22:  Anti-government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti-government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22:  Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko arrives to address anti-government demonstrators who remain in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko arrives to address anti-government demonstrators who remain in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22:  Anti-government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti-government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22:  A priest holds the helmet of an anti-government demonstrator killed in clashes with police before it is layed on display in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: A priest holds the helmet of an anti-government demonstrator killed in clashes with police before it is layed on display in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22:  Anti-government demonstrators remain in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti-government demonstrators remain in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22:  The helmets of an anti-government demonstrator killed in clashes with police is layed on display in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: The helmets of an anti-government demonstrator killed in clashes with police is layed on display in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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A man presses against the side of a van carrying the body of Ustim Holodnyuk, 19, who was killed in fighting between anti-government protesters and police, after a funeral procession through Independence Square on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After a week that saw new levels of violence, with dozens killed, it is thought that the opposition and government representatives reached an agreement intended to resolve the crisis,  after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

A man presses against the side of a van carrying the body of Ustim Holodnyuk, 19, who was killed in fighting between anti-government protesters and police, after a funeral procession through Independence Square on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After a week that saw new levels of violence, with dozens killed, it is thought that the opposition and government representatives reached an agreement intended to resolve the crisis, after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 21:  People gather in Independence square as coffins of anti-government demonstrator killed in yesterdays clashes with police arrive in the square on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych is thought to have reached a deal with the opposition to end the crisis, after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 21: People gather in Independence square as coffins of anti-government demonstrator killed in yesterdays clashes with police arrive in the square on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych is thought to have reached a deal with the opposition to end the crisis, after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 21:  Anti-government protesters man the front line barricades following yesterdays clashes with police in Independence square, on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych is thought to have reached a deal with the opposition to end the crisis, after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 21: Anti-government protesters man the front line barricades following yesterdays clashes with police in Independence square, on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych is thought to have reached a deal with the opposition to end the crisis, after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***

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KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti - government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Protesters have taken over government buildings in Kiev amid reports that President Viktor Yanukovych has left Ukraine's capital.

Speaking on Saturday morning, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko claimed the President had fled and renewed calls for his resignation.

 

"Today he left the capital," he told an emergency session of parliament. "Millions of Ukrainians see only one choice - early presidential and parliamentary elections."

 

BBC correspondents said the President's offices appeared to be unguarded and protesters had gained control of much of the government district, including the presidential administration building.

 

"He's not here, none of his officials or anyone linked directly to the administration are here," Ostap Kryvdyk, a protest leader, told reporters in the grounds.

Reuters quoted a "senior security source" who claimed Mr Yanukovych was still in the country.

 

“Everything is ok with him,” the source said. “He is in Ukraine.” Asked whether the embattled leader was in the capital, he replied: “I cannot say.”

 

Hanna Herman, a close aide of the President, told reporters he was visiting the city of Kharkiv in east Ukraine, where many of his supporters are based.

 

Thousands of protesters remain on the streets of Ukraine despite a deal signed on Friday aiming to end the political crisis.

Parliament approved the pact mediated by European foreign ministers after days of violent clashes between demonstrators and police in Kiev that left an estimated 77 people dead.

 

The deal, signed by the government and opposition, could free former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has spent more than two years in jail for what supporters say are politically motivated charges.

 

The 2004 constitution was to be restored within 48 hours and a national unity government formed within 10 days before constitutional reform starts to balance the President's powers with that of government and parliament.

 

A presidential election will be held no later than December 2014 and an investigation into acts of violence will be monitored by the Council of Europe.

 

The agreement promises that authorities will not impose another state of emergency and "refrain from the use of violence" after reports that police opened fire on protesters.

 

But it may be too little, too late to pacify anti-government protesters who united despite dramatically differing political views with the sole aim of ousting Mr Yanukovych.

Opposition leaders were reportedly booed on Friday as they spoke to crowds following the deal, which many do not trust.

 

William Hague. the Foreign Secretary, called the agreement an "important first step" towards resolution.

 

He added: “I urge all sides to adhere to the agreement in good faith to ensure a peaceful political settlement, including a return to the 2004 constitution, a government of national unity and early elections.

 

“The vote to decriminalise a number of articles under the criminal procedure code is significant, including the possible implications for Mrs Tymoshenko. We need to see progress towards establishing a fairer and more transparent justice system in Ukraine.

 

“The United Kingdom will work to support these positive developments over the coming days and weeks.”

Belfast Telegraph