Yanukovych Removes Prime Minister, Anti-Assembly and Speech Laws Repealed

by Alec Torres

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s prime minister, Mykola Azarov, resigned along with the rest of the president’s cabinet while parliament voted 361 to 2 to overturn controversial laws passed twelve days ago that limited speech and the freedom of assembly. Yesterday President Victor Yanukovych had offered Azarov’s job to an opposition leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who declined the offer.

“To create additional opportunities for social and political compromise and for a peaceful solution to the conflict, I made a personal decision to ask the president of Ukraine to accept my resignation as prime minister of Ukraine,” Azarov said.

The former chairman of Ukraine’s national bank, Serhiy Arbuzov, assumed duties as active prime minister. The rest of the cabinet, having formally resigned, will stay on as acting officials until a new cabinet is formed.

These resignations are the first major concession from Yanukovych since the beginning of the protests, and they fulfill one of the major demands of the protesters. However, Yanukovych has made no indication that he is considering the protesters’ primary demand that he resign from office.

According to BBC, the parliament will soon discuss offering amnesty to convicted protesters. Previously, Yanukovych offered amnesty only to those who cleared the barricades and left the protests. Reuters reports that opposition leaders will not yet end the protests in the hope of gaining more concessions from Yanukovych.