KIEV: Ukraine’s parliament yesterday approved Mykola Azarov, President Viktor Yanukovich’s ally, as prime minister, after the ruling Party of the Regions and its allies mustered a solid majority despite raucous protests from the opposition.
Azarov, 64, who now faces tough talks with the International Monetary Fund, has served as prime minister since Yanukovich became president in February 2010 and was voted in for a second term in office by 252 votes from the 450-seat chamber. “We must find compromise on (the issue of) co-operation with the IMF,” he told the chamber.
Azarov’s government lost access to the previous IMF programme in early 2011 after refusing to raise household gas and heating prices to cut the budget deficit. Azarov said in October he still hoped to avoid price hikes.
The Fund, which insists on price increases, plans to send a mission to Kiev in late January. Ukraine needs fresh IMF loans to refinance at least some of $9bn in state foreign debt falling due next year.
The vote on Azarov’s nomination was an early test of the support that Yanukovich, who is expected to bid for a second term as president in 2015, commands in the new chamber.
But it culminated a day of rowdy scenes in parliament and protests from a re-invigorated opposition which spoke out against another term for Azarov. It says his government has reneged on promises to raise living standards.