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Ukraine PM resigns 2 months after narrowly dodging no-confidence vote

After weeks of political crisis in Kiev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk has announced his long-expected resignation.

Yatsenyuk made his decision public on Sunday in a televised address, saying he would formally submit his resignation to parliament on Tuesday.

The prime minister has been a highly unpopular figure in Ukraine with his approval ratings languishing in the single-digit range. The public blames him for a ruined economy and the failure to implement reforms he had promised when taking office following the February 2014 coup.

The final stages of his tenure were marred by an ugly political scandal when his economy minister, Aivaras Abromavicius, announced his resignation over alleged corruption in the Ukrainian government.

As the crisis unfolded, the ruling coalition in the Ukrainian parliament collapsed. Under Ukrainian law, President Petro Poroshenko can call an early election if a new coalition isn’t formed, but opinion polls say his own party would lose seats in that case as well.

Poroshenko tried to resolve the debacle in the cabinet by calling on Yatsenyuk to resign, but he refused to do so. An attempt to fire him through a parliament vote failed in what was a major embarrassment for the president.

Yatsenyuk said the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine “was created artificially” and has become personal for politicians.

He added that his government was “the best in the history of Ukraine” and a “manifestation of the new Ukraine.”

The outgoing PM said that he now has goals that are broader than the authority a mere head of government.

“New electoral law. Constitutional reform. Judicial reform. Coalition control over the direction of the new government. International support of Ukraine. Ukraine’s membership in the European Union and NATO. This is only a part of my program,” he said.

According to Yatsenyuk, parliament speaker Vladimir Groysman will be Ukraine’s next PM.

Despite his resignation, Yatsenyuk said that his party, the People’s Front, will stay in the ruling coalition. "The People's Front will remain a coalition member as today it is the only possible way to defend the country," he said after announcing his decision to step down, as quoted by TASS.

Yatsenyuk added that he was optimistic about his party’s political prospects, despite the lack of popular support. "We love our country and ratings are things that come and go," he said.

Poroshenko told Ukrainian TV on Sunday that he will not dissolve the current  parliament. “I respect the Ukrainian parliament. I want no confrontation with either the parliament or the government. I have no other parliament for you and will have none whatsoever,” he was quoted as saying by TASS.

Gilbert Doctorow of Russia Insider pointed out that Yatsenyuk’s resignation occurred shortly after Ukraine’s association agreement with the EU had been rejected in a Dutch referendum.

“This raised the feeling of crisis within the Ukrainian political elites and made [Yatsenyuk’s] departure something essential so they would have a sacrificial lamb and they would appear before Europeans in particular, and IMF as well, to be making some progress in putting their house in order,” he told RT.

Doctorow said that Kiev is keenly aware of what its European partners are saying about Ukraine’s EU aspirations. “The Ukraine is not going to join the EU any time soon, in fact, not in the next 20-30 years, which in political terms [means] never,” he said, adding that this was very damaging to the Ukrainian leadership’s image at home.