The decision provoked demonstrations in Kiev on what became known as the Euromaidan by protesters seeking to align their future with Europe’s and speaking out against corruption.The Yanukovich government’s crackdown after three months of protests and reprisals by radicalized demonstrators spurred the bloodiest conflict in the country’s post-Soviet period, with scores killed.Yet infighting among elites hampered reforms and severe economic troubles resurged with the global economic crisis of 2008.
(Tymoshenko’s release was one of the conditions set by the EU for the trade association agreement.) But, under pressure from Russia, he dropped those plans, citing concerns about damage to Ukrainian industry by European competition.
But the parliament’s acts can be vetoed by the central government in Kiev, which must approve the republic’s prime minister.
Since the ouster of Yanukovich in February 2014, Crimea’s parliament has asserted greater autonomy and voted for a March 16 referendum to decide whether Crimea should become part of Russia or remain a part of Ukraine, but with enhanced local powers.
Ukraine was part of Russia for centuries and the two continued to be closely aligned through the Soviet period, when Ukraine and Russia were separate republics.
Ukraine is also an economic partner that Russia would like to incorporate into its proposed Eurasian Union, a customs union due to be formed in January 2015 whose likely members include Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Armenia.