KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's opposition accused President Viktor Yanukovych of foul play as he placed himself on sick leave and said his rivals were escalating the nation's two-month political crisis.
The two sides are in dispute over steps meant to reduce tension after deadly anti-government clashes last week. Mr. Yanukovych's Cabinet fell with Tuesday's resignation of former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. The opposition rejected an amnesty law for protesters pushed through Wednesday and said the president may cite illness to avoid canceling anti-protest laws.
"This temporary pause benefits Yanukovych tactically. If a decision is taken to disperse the protests by force while the president is officially on sick leave, responsibility will lie with those who carry out the move," Gorshenin Institute analyst Vladimir Zastava in Kiev said by phone.
Activists at Independence Square barricade in Kiev have been demanding that the 63-year-old leader step down since he scuttled a European Union integration pact in November, spurring a West-Russia tug-of-war.
His office said Mr. Yanukovych took sick leave Thursday with an "acute respiratory condition" and high fever. In a statement later, he said: "All obligations that the authorities have taken upon themselves have been fulfilled. The opposition, however, continues to escalate the situation."