News / Europe

    Ukraine Government Resigns

    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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora