Protests as Ukraine premier faces no confidence vote
Protesters have gathered outside the Ukrainian parliament as lawmakers debate holding a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Protesters rallied outside the parliament in Kiev on Tuesday calling for the resignation of Yatsenyuk over what they perceive to be his government’s failure to fight graft.
The protest was organized by the Ukrainian nationalist Svoboda party and the Party of Ordinary People.
Yatsenyuk’s government has come under increased pressure due to allegations of corruption and the slow pace of reforms.
Meantime, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on Yatsenyuk and the country’s controversial prosecutor general to resign because both had lost the public’s trust.
“In order to restore trust in the government, the president asked the prosecutor general and the prime minister to quit,” presidential spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote in social media on Tuesday.
Yatsenyuk was a leading figure during Ukraine’s 2014 pro-EU changes and vowed to clean up the government by cutting its ties to shadowy tycoons.
Soon, however, people accused the former banker of defending the interests of the very same billionaires he had vowed to sideline.
A former lawmaker accused a close Yatsenyuk associate in December of receiving a massive bribe for giving the Czech company Skoda the right to provide equipment for Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
Yatsenyuk dismissed the charges but was unable to shed the shadow of corruption that has trailed him ever since.
Recent opinion polls show 70 percent of Ukrainians supporting Yatsenyuk’s dismissal and only one percent backing his People’s Front parliamentary bloc.
Ukraine’s biggest political party said on Tuesday it will rate the performance of Yatseniuk’s government as “unsatisfactory” in an imminent vote that could precipitate a collapse of the coalition government and snap election.
The risk of the Ukrainian government falling also threatens a massive IMF-led rescue package aimed at reviving the country’s shattered economy and slashing its reliance on Russian financial support. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that it may withhold aid to Ukraine if it does not carry out anti-corruption reforms.
Earlier this month, Ukrainian Economic Development and Trade Minister Aivaras Abromavicius resigned, claiming that substantial quantities of money were being diverted away from the Ukrainian government.