Ukraine's parliament rejects prime minister's resignation
By STEVEN ZEITCHIK | Los Angeles Times | Published: July 31, 2014
A week after Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said he wanted to resign, the government offered a reply: You can’t.
The Ukrainian parliament voted Thursday to keep Yatsenyuk as prime minister. The tally was 109-16 against Yatsenyuk’s resignation. A total of 325 members either abstained or weren’t present.
According to the Ukrainian Constitution, the parliament must accept the prime minister’s resignation for it to take effect. A majority of the body — 226 members — would have had to offer a no-confidence vote for the resignation to be approved.
Yatsenyuk will now almost certainly stay — leaving over the parliament's objections is regarded as career suicide — with some analysts thinking he was never committed to exiting the post and had offered his resignation to make a statement about legislative logjam.
On Thursday, that logjam appeared to ease a bit as the parliament, called in out of recess, voted to approve new funding for the fighting against pro-Russia insurgents via a 1.5% “military duty” and to pass budget changes that would allow Kiev to meet its obligations to the International Monetary Fund per a bailout agreement with that group.
Yatsenyuk had previously issued a plea to fellow members of parliament to turn out for the special session, calling on them to “vote for these laws and to take the responsibility before the Ukrainian people.” After the bills passed, he took the floor and said, “Ukraine has never declared default and never will.”
A collapse of the governing coalition that preceded Yatsenyuk’s resignation still applies, which would allow Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to call snap parliamentary elections if party leaders can’t form a new government by Aug. 24. Last Thursday, several parties left the coalition with Yatsenyuk’s Fatherland party, causing the government to collapse.
Also Thursday, a total of four investigators from the Netherlands and Australia, along with members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, reached the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down July 17 in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
It was the group’s fifth day of attempting to reach the area, after it found its path blocked because of fighting. According to an OSCE representative, the group reached the site, which remains in separatist-controlled territory, by taking a new route. The Ukrainian government also declared a one-day cease-fire throughout the east on any offensive actions; an army representative said it came in response to calls from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for a “day of silence” near the crash site.
The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday also approved a measure that would allow nearly 1,000 Dutch and Australian armed personnel to enter the site to protect investigators, though it remains to be seen if those countries’ governments would want to send in such forces.