29 Jan 2014

Ukraine's PM quits as protest laws repealed

3:01 pm on 29 January 2014

Ukraine's Prime Minister has resigned in a bid to ease a two-month crisis as MPs began an extraordinary session aimed at adopting crucial reforms. The move came after the parliament voted overwhelmingly to annul a controversial anti-protest law.

Mykola Azarov.

Mykola Azarov. Photo: AFP

Mykola Azarov said he hopes his resignation will create an additional possibility for a political compromise to peacefully resolve the conflict. He said preserving the unity and integrity of Ukraine is far more important than any personal plans or ambitions.

The 66-year-old tendered his resignation as parliament met for an emergency session to work out a deal that would satisfy the opposition and end street protests in the capital Kiev and other cities, AFP reports.

President Viktor Yanukovich has accepted the resignation and that of his cabinet. Crowds of demonstrators in Kiev's Independence Square responded with loud cheers but continue to call for him to step down.

Meanwhile, Parliament held an emergency debate on the crisis and voted by 361 to two to repeal protest legislation, which among other measures banned the wearing of helmets by protesters and the blockading of public buildings, the BBC reports.

The law had helped fuel the demonstrations which began in Kiev after Mr Yanukovych pulled out of a planned trade deal with the European Union in November last year in favour of a $US15 billion bailout from Russia to bolster the ailing public finances.