Controversial Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk Resigns, Opening Way For New Government, End To Political Crisis

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has announced he will step down in his weekly televised address on Sunday. The Prime Minister blamed the failure of politicians to enact “real changes” for his resignation, the BBC reported.

The embattled politician has seen his public approval ratings plummet in recent months. He is set to deliver a formal resignation to parliament on Tuesday.

Mr. Yatsenyuk became the Prime Minister of Ukraine following the “Euromaidan” protest movement that forced pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014. Now, his departure may open the way for the formation of a new government and an end to the drawn-out political crisis that grips Ukraine.

“I took the decision to resign as prime minister of Ukraine,” he said, as quoted in The Independent. “On Tuesday, April 12, I will submit it to parliament. My decision is based on a several reasons – the political crisis in the government has been unleashed artificially, the desire to change one person has blinded politicians and paralysed their will to bring about real changes in the country.”

Though he came to power promising to battle corruption and powerful oligarchs, his pro-EU Kiev government has itself been accused of corruption, though no evidence for these allegations has been made public.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also threatened to withhold aid money to Ukraine if he didn’t carry out reforms. The Kiev government remains under intense pressure from the U.S. and the European Union to implement real democratic reforms and improve Ukraine’s worsening economic situation.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko asked Yatsenyuk to resign back in February, saying he had lost the support of the coalition government. However, Yatsenyuk survived, as later that same day parliament voted to reject a vote of no confidence in his leadership, though they voted the work of his cabinet unsatisfactory.

Soon after, two parties withdrew from the governing coalition to protest not ousting him, taking away their majority in parliament. Since then, Yatsenyuk’s approval ratings have plunged to single digits, as reported by Deutsche Welle (DW).

Yatsenyuk has also faced controversy before regarding inflammatory comments made to the press, including statements made to Germany’s state-run broadcaster ARD in which he claimed that the U.S.S.R. “invaded” Germany and Ukraine during World War II.

“All of us still clearly remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany,” he said to ARD. “We need to avoid it.”

“Nobody has the right to rewrite the results of the Second World War,” he added. “Russia’s President Putin is trying to do exactly this.”

These comments, addressing Russian aggression against Ukraine, were widely seen as whitewashing Nazi Germany.

The Prime Minister’s decision was also announced on his Twitter account, where he called for the swift formation of a new government to avoid destabilization of the executive branch during a time of war, when the conflict in eastern Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists has reached an uneasy ceasefire. Frequent violations are still reported.

Russia also annexed the region of formerly Ukrainian region of Crimea in March 2014 after a highly disputed referendum.

Yatsenyuk claimed that Poroschenko’s coalition would nominate parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Groysman to be the next prime minister. He tweeted that his goals in government after resigning from office would include focusing on passing a new electoral law, reform of the constitution and the judiciary, and ensuring Ukrainian membership in the EU and NATO.

[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]