Ukraine parliament elects Azarov as PM after brawls

KIEV Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:40am EST

Then Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kiev October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Anatolii Stepanov

Then Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kiev October 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Anatolii Stepanov

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament on Thursday approved Mykola Azarov, President Viktor Yanukovich's ally, as prime minister, after the ruling Party of the Regions and its allies mustered a solid majority despite raucous protests from the opposition.

Azarov, 64, who has served as prime minister since Yanukovich became president in February 2010, was voted in for a second term in office by 252 votes from the 450-seat chamber.

The vote on Azarov's nomination was an early test of the support that Yanukovich, who is expected to bid for a second term as president in 2015, commands in the new chamber.

But it culminated a day of rowdy scenes in parliament and protests from a re-invigorated opposition which spoke out against another term for Azarov. It says his government has reneged on promises to raise living standards.

Earlier, deputies wrestled with each other in a mass of bodies around the main rostrum as opposition parties tried physically to block a vote on the Regions' candidate for speaker.

The Regions' majority in support of Azarov was due in part - as with the vote in support of Volodymyr Rybak as speaker - to backing from the Regions' traditional communist allies.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Olzhas Auyezov)

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