Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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In back-to-back moves aimed at defusing Ukraine's political crisis, the prime minister resigned Tuesday and parliament repealed anti-protest laws that had set off violent clashes between protesters and police.The two developments were significant concessions to the anti-government protesters who have fought sporadically with police for the last 10 days after two months of peaceful around-the-clock demonstrations. The protests erupted after President Viktor Yanukovych decided to turn toward Russia for a bailout loan instead of signing a deal with the European Union, but have since morphed into a general plea for more human rights, less corruption and more democracy in this nation of 45 million. The departure of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov removes one of the officials most disliked by the opposition forces, whose protests have turned parts of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, into a barricaded maze. Azarov's resignation came just before the opening of a special parliament session that repealed anti-protest laws that had set off clashes between protesters and police.
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