Ukraine’s parliament voted to repeal recently passed legislation limiting the right to protest on Tuesday, shortly after Prime Minister Mykola Azarov tendered his resignation.
President Viktor Yanukovich quickly accepted his resignation and that of his cabinet. Azarov’s spokesman said first deputy prime minister, Serhiy Arbuzov, a former central bank chief, would step in as acting prime minister. The other ministers will remain in office until a new government is formed.
The two moves are the first concrete concessions Yanukovich has made to the opposition since the country was plunged into political crisis two months ago.
Mass demonstrations against his leadership first erupted in the capital Kiev in November, after he backed out of a trade deal with the European Union to negotiate a financial aid agreement with Russia instead.
While the news was greeted with cheers from protesters camped in Kiev’s central Independence Square, opposition leaders were not appeased.
“We have to change not only the government, but the rules of the game as well,” declared boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko. “We are sure the struggle will continue.”
Azarov, 66, tendered his resignation as parliament met for an emergency session earlier in the day. Protesters have repeatedly called for him to step down over the past couple of months, blaming him in part for the country’s deeply indebted economy and for supporting the president’s decision to drop the trade deal with the EU.
Azarov said he was quitting “with the aim of creating extra means for finding a social-political compromise, for the sake of a peaceful settlement of the conflict.”
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)
Date created : 2014-01-28