Ukrainian prime minister quits, parties force new election

KIEV Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:47pm EDT

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, standing under a framed photo of Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, signs a book of condolence as he commemorates victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the Dutch embassy in Kiev July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Sergey Dolzhenko/Pool

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, standing under a framed photo of Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, signs a book of condolence as he commemorates victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the Dutch embassy in Kiev July 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Sergey Dolzhenko/Pool

Related Topics

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's prime minister tendered his resignation on Thursday, berating parliament for failing to pass legislation to take control over an increasingly precarious energy situation and to increase army financing.

Earlier on Thursday, two parties quit the government coalition, forcing new elections to a parliament whose make-up has not changed since before the toppling of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich in February.

His successor, President Petro Poroshenko, supported the move, which one politician said would clear "Moscow agents" from the chamber.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk's resignation could leave a hole at the heart of decision-making as Ukraine struggles to fund a war with pro-Russian rebels in its east and deals with the aftermath of a plane crash that killed 298 people.

The usually mild-mannered Yatseniuk bellowed at politicians who had failed to pass a law to allow a liberalization of control over Ukraine's pipeline system.

He said politicians risked losing the hearts and minds of Ukrainians who had protested for months in the "Maidan" demonstrations in favor of joining Europe and against Yanukovich.

"History will not forgive us," he told parliament.

"Millions of people made this revolution. We did not take the European choice but the 'heavenly hundred' and thousands of other Ukrainians did," he said, referring to those killed, mainly by sniper fire, during the protests.

Yatseniuk, who has been central to talks with the European Union and the United States, cannot leave office immediately, political analysts said, because he is obliged to continue his duties before a new prime minister and government are installed.

But his impassioned speech underlined the frustration of many in Ukraine that change in the higher echelons of power was taking too much time.

"FULL RESET"

Morale has also sunk in Kiev since the downing of a Malaysian airliner in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine last week, even though Ukrainian forces are making headway in the military campaign against the separatists.

Poroshenko welcomed the decision by the nationalist party Svoboda and the Udar (Punch) party of former boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko to withdraw from the majority coalition in parliament.

"Society wants a full reset of state authorities," Poroshenko said in a statement, adding that the move showed that those who decided to quit the coalition were following the will of the people.

Politicians and pro-European activists have complained that while Ukraine has a new president, it has yet to elect a new parliament since the toppling of Yanukovich in February, and accuse his supporters of hampering its work.

Yatseniuk said that by blocking legislation, like a bill to allow consortiums with European or U.S. companies to operate Ukraine's ageing gas distribution system and storage facilities, parliament was putting Ukraine's future at risk.

By not tackling budget spending, it was also putting the lives of Ukraine's soldiers in jeopardy, he said.

"It's unacceptable that because laws have not been passed, we now have no means with which to pay soldiers, doctors, police, we have no fuel for armored vehicles, and no way of freeing ourselves from dependence on Russian gas," he said.

"Those people who are sitting there under fire, can we just think of them?"

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, writing by Elizabeth Piper, editing by Timothy Heritage and Robin Pomeroy)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (4)
carlmartel wrote:
Yatseniuk has reasons for concerns over energy and the military. The 50% and 40% increases in consumer and business energy prices while Ukraine’s currency is down over 40% and wages are frozen could cause riots in the west. Add to that financial difficulties for the armed forces, and a second revolution becomes more likely. Who will defend Kiev’s politicians if the armed forces join a rebellion in western Ukraine over EU austerity? Riots have occurred in the EU over its austerity, and they may happen in Ukraine.

Jul 24, 2014 7:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
grasspress wrote:
gee, this sounds exactly like republicans in the US. they are also doing all they can to destroy the US by not financing critical government services, such as the care of our veterans, improving our nation’s infrastructure, and curtailing the excesses of banking and finance.

Jul 24, 2014 11:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
grasspress wrote:
gee, this sounds exactly like republicans in the US. they are also doing all they can to destroy the US by not financing critical government services, such as the care of our veterans, improving our nation’s infrastructure, and curtailing the excesses of banking and finance.

Jul 24, 2014 11:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.