UK & World News
Ukraine Scraps Controversial Anti-Protest Laws
Anti-protests laws that sparked violent demonstrations in Ukraine have been scrapped in an attempt to end a two-month stand-off between the government and opposition supporters.
At least three people have died in clashes between protesters and security forces since the new laws were announced.
Applause broke out in parliament after the vote passed with 361 deputies in favour and two against.
The move came shortly after Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned, saying he hoped the move would help bring resolution to the crisis.
Mr Azarov said he was stepping down to try and encourage a "social-political compromise" to the unrest in the country.
In a statement he said: "Today the most important thing is to preserve the unity and integrity of Ukraine. This is far more important than any personal plans or ambitions. That is why I have taken this decision."
The pro-Western protests in Kiev began on November 21 after President Viktor Yanukovych shelved a long-planned political and economic treaty with the EU, then accepted a huge bailout package from Russian President Vladimir Putin instead.
He then approved the anti-protest laws to try to curb the opposition.
Demonstrations then spread to other parts of the country, including to some cities in the Russian-speaking east, the base of the president's support.
The crisis has been aggravated in recent days after protesters and police clashed violently.
Mr Yanukovych agreed to abolish the laws - which made the occupation of public building punishable by five years in jail and banned protesters from wearing masks or helmets - after talks with opposition leaders.
Protesters established an extensive tent camp in downtown Kiev's main square, where demonstrators have gathered around-the-clock since early December.
Not all of Ukraine is in favour with closer ties to the EU.
Many of the Russian-speaking citizens of the east want the country to retain its ties with Russia.
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