Ukraine Government Survives No-Confidence Vote

But it's unclear if that's all the protesters want

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Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Getty Images

Vitaliy Klitschko, the 42-year-old heavyweight world champion who has said he will run for president in 2015, and one of the most popular figures in the former Soviet republic of 45 million people, gestures as he addresses deputies of the majority at the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev prior the parliament session on December 3, 2013.

Ukraine’s government survived a no-confidence vote on Tuesday, earning only 186 votes of a required 226, after an unruly parliamentary session earlier in the day led to speculation that the measure could pass.

While the 450 lawmakers declined to oust the ruling party, it is also uncertain if the resignation of the government would put an end to the massive protests that started over a week ago, Financial Times reports.

“We demand the resignation of the government and the president and the arrest of the interior minister,” said Arseny Yatseniuk, leader of the jailed opposition leader Yulia Tynoshenko’s party. “Anyone who does not support resignation also bears responsibility for the beating of our children.”

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was reportedly unable to get into his office the government building, since it was barricaded by protesters. “This has all the signs of a coup,” Azarov told Western ambassadors, according to BBC. “We know that a plan is being prepared to seize the parliament.”

A White House spokesman quickly fired back in response to Azarov’s assertion: “We certainly don’t consider peaceful demonstrations coup attempts.”

The mass protests, which have tallied over 300,000 people at their height, are the gravest political turmoil experienced in the country since the Orange Revolution of 2004. They were ignited after President Victor Yanukovich failed to sign a deal on closer integration with Europe, instead bowing to pressure from Russia to consider joining a customs union of former Soviet states.

“What is happening in Kiev is not revolution, as the Ukrainian opposition claims, but pogroms,” Russia’s president Vladimir Putin said. Putin made his remark from Armenia, where he was announcing economic benefits extended to the country after snubbing an E.U. deal in September, in favor of the Russia-led customs union.

On Monday, the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso agreed to a request from President Yanukovich to discuss implementations of certain accords with Ukraine, but emphasized that the Commission would “not re-open any kind of negotiations.”