Radio Sandwell News

Ukraine's Prime Minister and government resign

2014-01-28 16:10:00

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych has accepted the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet amid continuing anti-government protests.

Mykola Azarov had offered to step down as prime minister to create "social and political compromise".

The move came after the Ukrainian parliament voted overwhelmingly to annul a controversial anti-protest law.

The protests have spread in recent days across Ukraine, even to President Yanukovych's stronghold in the east.

Official buildings in several cities have been occupied.

Protesters in Kiev say they are in no hurry to leave,
despite the protest laws being annulled, as Duncan
Crawford reports

Tuesday saw the interior ministry report that three protesters had stabbed and wounded three policemen in the southern city of Kherson, one of whom later died.

In total, at least five people have been killed in violence linked to the protests.

Parliament - holding an emergency debate on the crisis - voted by 361 to 2 to repeal the protest legislation, which among other measures banned the wearing of helmets by protesters and the blockading of public buildings.

The law had helped fuel the demonstrations which began in Independence Square in the capital, Kiev, after Mr Yanukovych pulled out of a planned trade deal with the EU last November in favour of a $15bn (£9bn) bailout from Russia.

MPs applauded as the result was announced. There was a similar response in Kiev's Independence Square, which remains the focal point of the demonstrations.

A BBC correspondent who went to the square described it as relatively quiet with no sign of the recent violence which has affected parts of central Kiev.

Parliament adjourned after the vote on the protest law and is due to discuss the issue of granting an amnesty to convicted protesters.

Mr Yanukovych offered an amnesty only if protesters cleared barricades and stopped attacking government buildings.

In his resignation statement, Prime Minister Azarov said: "To create additional opportunities for social and political compromise and for a peaceful solution to the conflict, I made a personal decision to ask the president of Ukraine to accept my resignation as prime minister of Ukraine."

21 Nov 2013: Ukraine announces it will not sign a
deal aimed at strengthening ties with the EU


30 Nov: Riot police detain dozens of anti-government
protesters in a violent crackdown in Kiev


17 Dec: Russia agrees to buy $15bn of Ukrainian
government bonds and slash the price of gas it sells to
the country


16 Jan 2014: Parliament passes law restricting the
right to protest


22 Jan: Two protesters die from bullet wounds during
clashes with police in Kiev; protests spread across many


25 Jan: President Yanukovych offers senior jobs to the
opposition, including that of prime minister, but these are

The government had "done everything to ensure the peaceful resolution of the conflict" and would do "everything possible to prevent bloodshed, an escalation of violence, and violation of citizen's rights", he said.

Despite the president accepting their resignations, the cabinet can remain in their posts for 60 days until a new government is formed.

President Yanukovych had already offered Mr Azarov's job to the opposition at the weekend, proposing that Fatherland leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk take the post. Mr Yatsenyuk declined the offer.

Meanwhile, top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton has brought forward a planned visit to Ukraine by 48 hours and will now arrive on Tuesday for meetings with Mr Yanukovych and opposition leaders.

She said she was "alarmed" by reports on Monday that the government was preparing to introduce a state of emergency. Officials have denied any such plan.

Ms Ashton arrives from Brussels where she, with other senior EU leaders, will have met Russian President Vladimir Putin at an EU-Russia summit.

Differences over Ukraine were expected to be high on the agenda.


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