Ukrainian prime minister submits resignation
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - The prime minister of crisis-torn Ukraine has submitted his resignation.
In a statement Tuesday on the government website, Mykola Azarov offered his resignation in order to encourage what he called "social-political compromise."
The pro-Western protests in Kiev began Nov. 21 after President Viktor Yanukovych shelved a long-planned political and economic treaty with the European Union, then accepted a huge bailout package from Russian President Vladimir Putin instead. The crisis was aggravated in recent days after protesters and police clashed violently.
Azarov's statement was released as the parliament opened a special session that is expected to repeal harsh anti-protest laws that were imposed this month. Those laws set off the police-protester clashes in which at least three protesters died.
Azarov's resignation must be accepted by the president, but that appears to be only a formality. Yanukovych last week offered the premiership to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the opposition's top figures. Yatsenyuk turned down the offer on Monday.
The prime minister's resignation would remove one of the figures most despised by the opposition and repeal of the anti-protest laws would remove a severe aggravating factor in the crisis. But they stop well short of opposition demands, which include Yanukovych's resignation.
In addition, Yanukovych says an amnesty for dozens of protesters arrested in the demonstrations would be implemented only if protesters leave the streets and vacate buildings that they have occupied. Ending the protests without having other demands met appears unlikely.