News / Europe

Ukraine Government Resigns

Ukraine Protesters Remain Defiant As Government Resignsi
X
January 29, 2014 1:59 AM
Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych has accepted the resignation of the country's prime minister and cabinet in a bid to quell violent anti-government protests that have gripped the capital, Kyiv, and are spreading to other cities. The country's parliament has also rolled back measures designed to muzzle the protesters. The demonstrations began two months ago after Mr. Yanukovych backed away from an expected deal with the European Union. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell has reaction from protesters camped out in Kyiv’s Independence Square.]]

Watch related video from VOA's Henry Ridgwell

Henry Ridgwell
— Ukraine’s president on Tuesday accepted the resignation of the government in a bid to quell violent anti-government protests that have gripped the capital Kyiv. The demonstrations began two months ago after Viktor Yanukovich backed away from signing a deal with the European Union.

The Ukrainian president’s website said Mr. Yanukovych had accepted the prime minister's resignation and that, under Ukrainian law, the rest of the Cabinet of Ministers must resign.

It said President Yanukovych had instructed the ministers to continue to carry out their duties “until the newly-formed Cabinet of Ministers starts working.”

The opposition welcomed the move, but said it was just one step towards their goal of early presidential elections. The current cabinet will remain in place until a new government is appointed.

Anti-protest law

2013
Nov. 21: Ukraine suspends plans to sign EU association agreement
Nov. 30: Riot police crack down on anti-government protesters in Kyiv
Dec. 17: Russia offers $15 billion in loans and slashes gas prices

2014
Jan. 16: Ukraine parliament passes anti-protest law
Jan. 22: Protests spread, two protesters shot and killed in Kyiv clashes
Jan. 25: President Viktor Yanukovych offers government posts to top opposition leaders
Jan. 28: Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigns, parliament repeals laws restricting protests
Lawmakers meeting in emergency session Tuesday also voted to repeal anti-protest laws introduced two weeks ago, by 361 votes to 2. The legislation had banned demonstrations and made it illegal to slander government officials. They were widely seen to have fuelled the protests.

The members of parliament were set to debate other concessions offered by the government late Tuesday, including an amnesty for detained protestors.

"Our condition for the amnesty is to release all the people except for the killers," explained Arseniy Yatseniuk, one of the three main opposition leaders. "Amnesty doesn't apply to murders, kidnapping, and torture, but it applies to all the rest."

A protest camp in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2014. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)A protest camp in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2014. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)
x
A protest camp in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2014. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)
A protest camp in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2014. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)
​A few hundred meters from the heavily-guarded Parliament building,  protestors were sceptical of the concessions.

Singer and poet Serhiy Fomenko - a local hero among protestors on Independence Square - says the repealing of the laws will not be enough to end the protests.

“The resignation of the prime minister, and the repealing of the new laws are just two steps, and they are not enough," Fomenko said. "There are many other problems that must be addressed: the police brutality, the corruption. People are being beaten, kidnapped and tortured.”

Ihor Mazur, a member of the right-wing nationalist group called Pravyi Sector or Right Sector, which has a large presence in Independence Square, says the protestors will not leave until all their demands are met.

“We must not abandon our protest camps," Mazur warned.  "We are not so naïve to believe that the government, this regime can change in just a couple of months. It will take time to change from within.”

Yanukovich’s supporters in Parliament have vowed to push for a state of emergency to be declared if the opposition refuses to call on protestors to leave government buildings. That could see police and the military move to clear the protest camps.

But protestors won’t give up their territory without a fight.

They are reinforcing the barricades. Sacks filled with hard-packed snow and looped with razor wire block every entrance to Independence Square and surrounding streets. Protestors wearing helmets and armed with clubs and knives man the narrow entrances.

The White House on Tuesday said Mr. Yanukovych informed Vice President Joe Biden of the latest developments.

A statement said Biden "welcomed progress" on defusing the crisis and urged the Ukrainian leader to sign into law "without delay" new legislation repealing anti-protest measures enacted earlier this month. It also said Biden voiced support for a Ukrainian amnesty law that would free protesters jailed since the anti-government demonstrations erupted two months ago.

President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia would keep its promise to lend Ukraine $15 billion and to reduce what it charges for natural gas exports to its neighbor even if the opposition comes to power.  

Mr. Putin made his comments in Brussels, where he was attending an EU-Russia summit.

Meanwhile the anti-government demonstrations continue to grow in cities beyond Kiev.  As Ukrainian lawmakers seek a peaceful end to the crisis, the atmosphere on the streets remains extremely tense.

  • An opposition supporter looks on as he warms himself next to a fire in a barricade near Kyiv's Independence Square, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters march in central Kyiv, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters march in central Kyiv, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • An opposition supporter stands next to a burning tire at a barricade in central Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Riot police stand in a cordon facing anti-government protesters as temperatures stand at minus 20 degrees Celsius at a barricade near Independence Square in Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters walk in the tent city at Independence Square in Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Protesters, with signs reading "Mother" on their chests, and ""The government don't kill our children," walk away from a police cordon in central Kyiv, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Members of various anti-government paramilitary groups walk in formation during a show of force in Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • Members of various anti-government paramilitary groups attend a religious service at a chapel in Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • A protest camp in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2014. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)
  • Protest camps in Independence Square, Kyiv, Jan. 28, 2013. (H. Ridgwell/VOA)

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Peoples_assembly from: UK
January 30, 2014 6:41 PM
Next the president and then the establishment of a new peoples constitution for the Ukranians


by: Jeremiah from: United States of America
January 29, 2014 12:46 PM
At least the citizens of Ukraine are smart enough to stand up for themselves, unlike most of my fellow Americans. We allow our president to step all over our rights, and our constitution, with little to no concern among the general population. I am proud to be an American, but I am ashamed of my fellow countrymen for not standing for what is right.


by: JR from: BRAZIL
January 28, 2014 11:32 AM
Step by step the governments around the world will understand that the people no more accept to be told every thing, resting mute. Congratulations to ukrainians who is figthing for your goals.

In Response

by: Moisey from: Costa Rica
January 29, 2014 9:56 AM
I agree with everything JR from Brazil said The people are the voice of each nation not the governments. Bravo Ukraine D &Z from Costa Rica ,Central America

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid