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Ukraine PM submits resignation before talks

Mykola Azarov offers to stand down at start of special session in Parliament to scrap laws banning protests.

Last updated: 28 Jan 2014 10:25
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Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has offered his resignation in a bid to ease Ukraine's deadly two-month crisis as politicians debated key reforms.

Under the constitution, the departure of the prime minister on Tuesday means the resignation of the entire government.

"The conflict situation which has come about in the country is threatening the economic and social development of Ukraine, creating a threat to the whole of Ukrainian society and to each citizen," Azarov said.

"With the aim of creating extra means for finding a social-political compromise, for the sake of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, I took the personal decision to ask the president to accept my resignation," he said.

World boxing champion and Ukraine opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko said Azarov's announcement was only "a step to victory".

"For several months we have been saying that what is happening in the streets is also the result of the policies of the current government. This is not victory but a step to victory," said Klitschko, leader of the UDAR (Punch) party.

Mykola Azarov submitted his resignation to ease political tensions

The resignation comes a day after the president, Victor Yanukovych, offered to repeal a law banning protests in an attempt to ease tensions. The initial introduction of the law increased the intensity of demonstrations in Ukraine and led to rising violence.

The government will most likely eliminate the laws in a special parliament session starting at 8:00GMT on Tuesday, in what is seen as a major concession by the Ukrainian president.

"There was a political decision to abolish the January 16 laws that have caused so much discussion," read Monday's statement by the justice minister, Elena Lukash, on the presidential website.

Yanukovych on Saturday has also offered the opposition posts in government and to make changes to the constitution that would reduce the powers of the presidency.

"We want everything to end peacefully. It is a good sign that Azarov resigned, but we will wait and see what happens next," said Tatyana, an anti-government protester in Maidan square. "We mothers pray to God that nothing happens to our children."

Buildings occupied

It is unclear whether the opposition will agree to the new terms or stop demanding its own, namely that the president steps down from power.

The president stopped short of proposing amnesty for dozens of arrested protesters until demonstrators stopped occupying buildings and ended their protests, a major sticking point for Tuesday's talks.

The president's decision came a day before a key EU-Russia summit in Brussels on Tuesday, where the crisis dominates discussions.

Talk of a state of emergency being declared in the former Soviet republic, which was later dismissed, has also made the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, hastily move up a visit to Kiev on Tuesday.

Anti-government protesters have alreadyattempted to blockade 14 of the 25 regional administrations, including in southern and eastern parts of the nation of 46 million that predominantly speak Russian and share an historical allegiance to Moscow.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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