Parliament repeals harsh anti-protest laws

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Tuesday tendered his resignation in order to facilitate “peaceful settlement” of the political crisis even as the Parliament repealed the harsh anti-protest laws that triggered violent anti-government protests two weeks ago.

President Viktor Yanukovych accepted the resignation of the Prime Minister and the government, but the concessions failed to appease the opposition, which is also demanding amnesty to all protesters and constitutional changes to curtail the sweeping powers of the President.

It was not immediately clear who could fill the vacant post of Prime Minister. At late night talks on Monday opposition leaders turned down Mr. Yanukovych’s offer of the posts of Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister.

“The resignation of the Prime Minister does not change anything because under the current power-sharing system the President has total control of the government,” said Alexei Haran, a political science professor at Kiev-Mohila Academy in Kiev. “The entire political system needs to be reformatted.”

Opposition leaders have demanded a return to a 2004 constitutional reform that transformed Ukraine from a presidential to parliamentary-presidential republic.

As Mr. Yanukovych continues bargaining with the opposition over the terms for ending protests, he is coming under growing pressure from the West to yield more ground.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Mr. Yanukovych on Monday night to urge him “to pull back riot police and work with the opposition on immediate measures to de-escalate tensions between protesters and the government.” Meanwhile, radical protesters in Ukraine are asserting their own agenda.

A leader of the “Right Sector”, a nationalist group that initiated recent clashes with police which claimed at least four lives of both sides, vowed on Tuesday to push for a “revolution” in Ukraine and called on the army and security services to side with the protesters. “Indecisiveness of the leaders of parliamentary opposition parties and their fear of revolution compels me to take personal responsibility for advancing the revolutionary process in Ukraine,” said Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the Trizub (Trident) extremist group.

A day earlier another nationalist group, UPA, claimed responsibility for killing a police officer.

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