Transitions Online, January 28, 2014
The Ukrainian parliament voted today to repeal a package of laws banning most public protests, fulfilling a pledge by President Viktor Yanukovych to opposition leaders a day earlier.
A large majority of legislators voted to repeal the two-week old legislation at a special session of parliament, Radio Free Europe reports.
In a day of dramatic developments in Kyiv, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced his resignation at the start of the session. Azarov released a statement saying his departure would create “an additional possibility for a political compromise to peacefully resolve the conflict.”
At the meeting yesterday with opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Oleh Tyahnybok, Yanukovych agreed to repeal the laws, whose passage unleashed the most violent protests seen in the two-month political crisis that began when the government pulled out of a cooperation agreement with the EU.
Yanukovych also said he would pardon arrested protesters on condition that opposition groups dismantle the barricades and abandon government buildings they have occupied.
Klitschko said Azarov’s resignation was only “a step to victory,” RFE reports, and described it as a face-saving measure, according to The Wall Street Journal, which suggests he and other opposition leaders are unlikely to be mollified by today’s developments. Their main demand is for Yanukovych himself to step down and call new elections.
“The main idea of the protest was not a new government,” Viktor Zamyatin of the Razumkov Center told The Journal. "The aim was to stop repressions, to punish the people responsible and for the resignation of Yanukovych."
RFE reports that protesters now claim to be in control of government buildings in 11 of the country’s 27 regions, mainly in the west of the country where opposition to the government is strongest.
Ukraine’s parliament repeals hated laws, Azarov steps down