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Ukraine Ruling Party Demands Cabinet Reshuffle

  • VOA News

Ukraine's ruling party has demanded a sweeping Cabinet reorganization in a sign the leadership is seeking to placate protesters opposed to an economic pact with Russia.

Lawmakers with President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions met Monday with Prime Minister Mykola Azarov to ask for a "90 percent reshuffle" of his government.

Earlier in a bid to ease tensions, Yanukovych offered a number of concessions, including firing senior officials over police violence against protesters. But the pro-EU opposition has dismissed the moves as half-measures, and leaders are demanding Azarov's resignation as well as early presidential and parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a major loan deal would be agreed to Tuesday in talks with Yanukovych in Moscow, and a Ukrainian minister said a deal to lower prices for Russian gas is likely.


Ukraine is facing its biggest political crisis in a decade after Yanukovych failed to sign a long planned political and trade deal with the European Union last month. He said significant trade pressure from Russia meant he must first fix relations with his eastern neighbor.

Russia has strongly opposed the EU deal, which would have anchored Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, in the West. But Yanukovych's decision has sparked mass demonstrations in Ukraine from pro-European protesters.

The protest movement, now in its fourth week, is planning to continue while Yanukovych is in Moscow.

The Ukrainian government, which has sought up to $20 billion in foreign assistance to prop up its struggling economy, has assured the demonstrators that eventually it planned to sign an association agreement with the European Union.

But the bloc abruptly suspended talks Sunday, saying Ukraine's leadership was being disingenuous. EU foreign ministers meeting Monday in Brussels reiterated their willingness to strike a deal, but said the next move is up to Kyiv.

A poll by Ukraine's non-governmental Research and Branding group released earlier this month shows 46 percent of Ukrainians favoring the EU trade pact. Thirty-six percent were shown favoring a rival trade bloc of former Soviet republics and satellite countries that is being pushed by Moscow.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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