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Ukraine’s parliament repeals anti-protest law while prime minister resigns

January 28, 2014 at 10:06 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In Ukraine today, there were more concessions by the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

But, as Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News reports, protesters are looking for yet more.

JONATHAN MILLER: As the embers of 10 days of violent protest still smoldered in Kiev’s ice-bound streets today, the dawn wind brought the distinct scent of political blood.

The president had made offers he thought the opposition would never turn down, but they did. And, by this morning, out in the cold, his supporters knew Viktor had lost.

WOMAN (through translator): Our president, he has no choice. He has been put in a position where he can only concede or put Ukraine on the brink of war.

JONATHAN MILLER: The president’s convoy swept from palace to Parliament for an emergency session just after 9:00 a.m. The Rada, as it’s called, was to vote on whether to repeal the draconian anti-protest laws which had triggered the violence which has now left five protesters dead.

Inside the Rada, the president’s own party voting with the opposition to reject what protesters branded the dictatorship laws.

VITALI KLITSCHKO, opposition leader (through translator): The positive thing is that we have managed to cancel the shameful amendments to laws which have been adopted in an unacceptable way. We have never seen such a thing happen before. It’s a small step, but a really important one.

JONATHAN MILLER: A humiliated Prime Minister Mykola Azarov then threw in the towel, appearing on the TV to announce his resignation, before he risked being stripped of his powers in a vote of no confidence.

Among opposition protesters manning the barricades in a burned and battered Independence Square, it’s all gone down rather well.

MAN (through translator): It’s very good that the prime minister has resigned. He should have done it a long time ago. Now we’re waiting for the president to do the same thing.

JONATHAN MILLER: But does all this bring Ukraine back any closer to Europe? Well, not if Russia can help it. So, for now, a welcome de-escalation, and the riot police out in the cold in the square look a little more chilled.