Ukrainian PM offers to resign

Mykola Azarov says he asked the president to accept his resignation for peace’s sake.

FILE: Protesters clash with police in the center of Kiev on 22 January. Picture: AFP.

KIEV - Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov offered his resignation on Tuesday, saying he was stepping down because of the threat to the economy caused by two months of unrest, his press service said.

Under the constitution, the departure of the prime minister means the resignation of the entire government.

He said he had personally asked President Viktor Yanukovich to accept his resignation for the sake of a peaceful settlement to conflict in the country.

"The conflict situation which has come about in the country is threatening the economic and social development of Ukraine, creating a threat to the whole of Ukrainian society and to each citizen," Azarov said.

"With the aim of creating extra means for finding a social-political compromise, for the sake of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, I took the personal decision to ask the president to accept my resignation," he said.

Azarov, 66, was appointed by Yanukovich after the presidential election in 2010 and has since steered the heavily indebted economy through hard times, keeping the national currency tightly pegged to the dollar and refusing International Monetary Fund pressure to raise gas prices at home.

A faithful lieutenant of Yanukovich, he backed the decision in November to walk away from a free trade agreement with the European Union and it was Azarov who took the heat in parliament, defending the need for closer economic ties with Russia.