Ukraine parliament rejects government no-confidence motion
KIEV- Agence France-Presse
Polish former prime minister and opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski (3rdR), leaders of Ukrainian opposition Vitaly Klitschko (2ndR) and Oleg Tyagnybok (2ndL) attend a mass rally of the opposition packs Independence Square in Kiev on December 1, 2013. AFP photoUkraine's parliament Dec. 3 rejected an opposition no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Mykola Azarov's government after the ruling party abstained from the vote.
The measure gathered 186 out of the required 226 votes in the Verkhovna Rada parliament with support from the three main opposition parties that sought Azarov's resignation over Ukraine's refusal to sign a historic EU trade and political pact.
The no-confidence vote failed after Azarov promised to reshuffle his government and apologized for a brutal police crackdown on weekend protests that drew Western condemnation and sparked even bigger rallies.
"I can guarantee lawmakers one thing -- I will draw firm conclusions from what happened and make serious personnel changes in the government," Azarov told an emergency parliament session.
"On behalf of our government, I would like to apologize for the actions of our law enforcement authorities on Maidan (Independence Square)," he added.
Protests over the Ukrainian government's decision to abandon a historic political and trade agreement with the EU has sparked the largest wave of protests in the ex-Soviet nation since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution.
More than 30 protesters were injured when police used tear gas and batons to push hundreds of angry Ukrainians off Kiev's iconic Independence Square early Saturday.
The action prompted more than 100,000 people to turn out for another demonstration Dec. 1 that degenerated into bloody violence outside the presidential administration building.
France invites opposition figure to Paris
France invited a senior figure in Ukraine's opposition, Vitaly Klitschko, to Paris on Tuesday to discuss a stand-off with the country's government that has brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets, Reuters has reported.
Ukraine has plunged into crisis since President Viktor Yanukovich turned down a free-trade deal with the European Union under pressure from Russia, with pro-Europe demonstrators blockading the government's main building in Kiev.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told RFI radio he had sent a message to Klitschko, telling him he was prepared to meet him in Paris. He said he and President Francois Hollande had met Yanukovich at an EU summit last week in Vilnius.
"It's not up to us to interfere in domestic issues, but the other day we spoke with Yanukovich and it seems normal to me to meet Mr. Klitschko as well, since Mrs. Tymoshenko is in prison," Fabius said, referring to jailed Ukrainian opposition figure and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.