Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych yesterday unexpectedly took sick leave from work, stepping aside from a crisis that still has no end in sight after lawmakers failed to find consensus on an amnesty law.
Yanukovych also accused the opposition of inflaming tensions in Ukraine's crisis but also admitted for the first time that the authorities had made mistakes.
"The opposition is continuing to inflame the situation and is calling on people to stand in the freezing cold due to the political ambitions of several leaders. I think this is wrong," he said in an address to the nation after the opposition refused to back an amnesty bill.
He said that all obligations that the authorities have taken on "will be fulfilled" such as the amnesty law adopted in a stormy session on Wednesday night.
The sudden announcement of his illness in Kiev came after the pro-EU opposition vowed further protests in the ex-Soviet country's worst political crisis since its 1991 independence.
The outcome of the crisis remained unclear, with thousands of demonstrators still occupying Kiev's Independence Square, key streets and municipal buildings in the centre of Kiev.
International concern has grown, with Russian President Vladimir Putin urging the European Union not to meddle in the crisis but Western states under pressure from protesters to consider sanctions against Ukrainian officials.