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Pro-EU MPs fail to unseat government

Ukraine's opposition fail attempt to force out government with no-confidence vote

Ukraine's opposition failed in its attempt to force out
the government with a no-confidence vote in parliament.

The measure got the support of 186 members of the Verkhovna Rada, 40 shy of the majority needed.

But even if it had passed Viktor Yanukovych would have remained president, with only the prime minister and cabinet ejected.

The opposition had challenged the government over its refusal to sign a trade deal with the European Union and has been backed in the streets by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators over the weekend.

Thousands of demonstrators still stood outside the Ukrainian parliament building yesterday shouting "revolution" as the legislature opened the session, but their hopes of a surprise victory inside the chamber were dashed.

Parliament started by discussing violence over the past few days in which riot police reacted harshly against demonstrators several times, beating some with truncheons.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov apologised for the brutal police crackdown that had merely sparked even bigger rallies.

"On behalf of our government, I would like to apologise for the actions of our law enforcement authorities on Independence Square," Mr Azarov told MPs.

The no-confidence debate proceeded without embattled President Yanukovich, who flew to China yesterday seeking loans and investment to avert Ukraine's debt crisis.

Russia wants to draw Ukraine into a Moscow-led customs union and prevent it moving closer to the EU.

But the tug-of-war between Brussels and Moscow for influence over Ukraine has so far done little to alleviate its looming debt crisis.

The China visit, involving the signing of at least 20 economic agreements, suggests that Mr Yanukovich believes Russia and the EU are not Ukraine's only possible partners.

Beijing has already provided the former Soviet republic with loans worth $10 billion (£6bn) but the government must find more than $17bn (£10.4bn) in 2014 to meet gas bills and debt repayments.

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