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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid