Ukraine PM resigns in bid to defuse crisis
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced his resignation Tuesday in what he said was a bid to quell the deepening political crisis created by protests in the former Soviet nation, RIA Novosti said.
“The acute and dangerous conflict for our people, for the fate of Ukraine, demands further responsible steps,” Azarov said in a statement posted on the Cabinet website as parliament was gathering to discuss measures on how to end the current standoff between authorities and the opposition.
“In order to create additional opportunities for social and political compromise, for the peaceful settlement of conflict, I have taken a personal decision to ask the president of Ukraine to accept my resignation,” Azarov said in his statement.
Azarov, who was appointed prime minister in 2010 by President Viktor Yanukovych, was a key figure in the decision to back away from increased ties with the European Union in November, a move that sparked the current wave of anti-government protests.
Activists say up to five protesters have been killed since demonstrations turned violent on January 19 in the wake of a mass rally in downtown Kiev calling for the repeal of a package of draconian anti-protest laws.
Azarov, who was born in Russia and is often mocked by government opponents for his poor command of Ukrainian, has been an outspoken critic of the opposition movement.
The veteran 66-year old politician has repeatedly accused opposition figures of trying to organize a coup, and last week described radical protesters in central Kiev as “terrorists.”
Azarov’s position had been undermined in recent days after the presidential administration confirmed that Yanukovych had offered Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna party, the position of prime minister in an attempt to placate protesters. Yatsenyuk rejected the offer.
Yatsenyuk underplayed the significance of the resignation announcement.
"There should be a presidential decree, and in general, I'm not willing to discuss it," he told reporters in parliament.
Oleg Tsarev, a deputy with ruling Party of Regions, said that he expected the resignation to lead to a worsening of economic instability.
“I am very sorry about this. I think in this situation to change the Cabinet will add economic instability to political instability. This is a wrong decision,” Tsarev said.