Ukraine's prime minister Mykola Azarov resigns; anti-protest laws axed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 11:43am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 3:35am

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned yesterday while deputies loyal to President Viktor Yanukovich, acting to calm violent street protests, backtracked and overturned anti-protest laws they rammed through parliament 12 days ago.

The first concrete concessions by Yanukovich since the crisis erupted two months ago brought cries of 'Hurrah!' from several thousand demonstrators on Kiev's Independence Square, the focal point of the protests.

But opposition leaders said they would continue to harness street power to wring even more gains from Yanukovich.

"We have to change not only the government, but the rules of the game as well," declared Vitaly Klitschko. "We are sure the struggle will continue."

The 66-year-old Azarov tendered his resignation as parliament met for an emergency session to work out a deal that would satisfy the opposition and end street protests in the capital Kiev and other cities in which six people have been killed.

Yanukovich quickly accepted his resignation and that of his cabinet.

Azarov said he was stepping down "with the aim of creating extra means for finding a social-political compromise, for the sake of a peaceful settlement of the conflict".

Parliament went into emergency session yesterday with ministers loyal to Yanukovich saying they would press for a state of emergency to be declared if opposition leaders did not curb protesters and end the occupation of government buildings.