In Brief

Ukrainian prime minister Azarov offers resignation

Parliament repeals anti-protest laws that sparked violent clashes between protesters and police

THE prime minister of Ukraine, Mykola Azarov, has offered his resignation following a wave of deadly protests across the country.

In a statement published today, Azarov said: "I have taken a personal decision to ask the president of Ukraine to accept my resignation from the post of prime minister with the aim of creating an additional possibility for a political compromise to peacefully resolve the conflict."

Under the constitution, the departure of the prime minister means the resignation of the entire government. Azarov's resignation has yet to be accepted by the president, but that appears to be only a formality. 

It came just hours before the Ukrainian parliament repealed the anti-protest laws that sparked the latest round of demonstrations in the capital city of Kiev. The decision was made today at an extraordinary session aimed at easing the crisis.

At least four activists have died in incidents connected with the protests in recent days, with the unrest spreading across Ukraine.

The anti-protest laws, which were passed on 16 January, banned the wearing of masks or helmets at demonstrations, and also outlawed unauthorised tents in public areas. Anyone blockading public buildings or slandering government officials also faced punishment under the legislation.

Despite today's significant concessions to the protesters, several key issues remain unresolved, says The Guardian. This includes the opposition's repeated demands for President Viktor Yanukovych to resign and a new election to be held.

The original protests began in November after Yanukovych refused to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union at the Eastern Partnership summit in Lithuania in November, derailing three years of talks with the EU.

Protesters argued that by refusing to loosen ties with Russia, Yanukovych was denying Ukraine the economic and social benefits of a relationship with the EU.

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