January 28, 2014 - 13:39 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced his resignation Tuesday, Jan 28, in what he said was a bid to quell the deepening political crisis created by protests in the former Soviet nation, RIA Novosti reports.
“The acute and dangerous conflict for our people, for the fate of Ukraine, demands further responsible steps,” Azarov said in a statement posted on the Cabinet website as parliament was gathering to discuss measures on how to end the current standoff between authorities and the opposition.
“In order to create additional opportunities for social and political compromise, for the peaceful settlement of conflict, I have taken a personal decision to ask the president of Ukraine to accept my resignation,” Azarov said, according to RIA Novosti.
Azarov, who was appointed prime minister in 2010 by President Viktor Yanukovych, was a key figure in the decision to back away from stronger ties with the European Union in November, a move that sparked the current wave of anti-government protests.
Activists say up to five protesters have been killed since demonstrations turned violent on January 19 in the wake of a mass rally in downtown Kiev calling for the repeal of a package of draconian anti-protest laws. Azarov, who was born in Russia and is often mocked by government opponents for his poor command of Ukrainian, has been an outspoken critic of the opposition movement.
The veteran 66-year old politician has repeatedly accused opposition figures of trying to organize a coup, and last week described radical protesters in central Kyiv as “terrorists.”
Azarov’s positions had been undermined in recent days after the presidential administration confirmed that Yanukovych had offered Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna party, the post of prime minister in an attempt to placate protesters. Yatsenyuk rejected the offer.