It’s his choice – for now. But it looks extremely doubtful that Ukrainians will wait until the next scheduled presidential election in January 2015 to get their chance to remove or reelect him. So unless Yanukovych changes, and there’s little evidence yet that he appreciates the reality of the situation, this is only the start of a crisis whose ending will do much to determine what kind of fate awaits this nation.

Yanukovych has lost a lot of credibility and legitimacy, particularly since his Nov. 21 abrupt reversal on promises to sign an association agreement with the European Union and meet all the democratic conditions that go with the pact. Most of his actions since then have been blunders.

A new presidential election in spring 2014 may be the best way to alleviate the political crisis, now in its fourth week. A European Parliament resolution on Ukraine hinted as much on Dec. 12, stating “that in any democracy new elections can be called when renewed popular legitimacy is needed.” This is what a civil society group on Independence Square has proposed as the exit strategy for ending the standoff.

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