Ukrainian prime minister steps down, country repeals anti-protest laws

Protesters want president Viktor Yanukovych to resign and new elections to be held

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has offered his resignation after months of protests in the country, which have been violent at times.

During an emergency debate in the Ukrainian parliament Tuesday, the country also repealed an unpopular new law that made protesting illegal, banned protesters from setting up blockades or wearing helmets, and made criticizing government officials illegal. The law was repealed with an overwhelming vote of 361 to 2.

Despite these measures to appease protesters, President Viktor Yanukovych remains. Protesters want the president to resign and new elections to be held.

Protesters have massed in cities across the country to demand a change in government after Yanukovych, in November, abandoned what would have been a historic co-operation agreement with the European Union. The move was viewed by many as a ploy to curry favour with Russia’s powerful President Vladimir Putin and as a step backwards, towards the country’s days of communism.

At the largest demonstration, thousands of protesters have set up in Kiev’s Independence Square. In other cities, mainly in the western part of the country, protesters have stormed, and even taken control of, government buildings.

Next, parliament will consider legislation that would give amnesty to the more than 200 people who have been arrested during protests over the past three months.

 




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