Ukraine parliament to hold emergency meeting over political crisis

Kiev, Jan 24: Ukrainian lawmakers will hold an extraordinary session next week to discuss the way out of the ongoing political crisis in the country, parliament Speaker Volodymyr Rybak said Thursday.

“Indeed, it is necessary to gather the opposition and parliament’s majority so they discuss emerging issues, in particular the resignation of the government and the laws approved by parliament earlier,” Xinhua quoted Rybak as saying in a meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych.

Rybak’s remarks were apparently a reference to the opposition’s call for Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s government to step down and the sweeping anti-protest laws which rammed through parliament last week.

The call of the emergency meeting came amidst deadly clashes between riot police and demonstrators, who took to the streets to register their furore over the controversial legislation which bans the wearing of masks and helmets during public assembly and allows a jail term of up to five years for those blocking public building.

More than 300 people have been injured since a new wave of anti-government protests erupted last weekend. During Wednesday’s unrest, at least three people were reported dead at the site of clashes.

Rybak said lawmakers from the opposition and ruling parties should find a compromise to ensure peace and calm in the country.

The protests first started Nov 21 with peaceful demonstrations demanding the country’s European integration, but soon boiled over into a violent nationwide movement, with demonstrators demanding the impeachment of president, resignation of the government and disbandment of parliament.

On Dec 3, Ukraine’s parliament rejected a no-confidence motion against Azarov’s government.