Ukraine's parliament dismissed the Cabinet Tuesday over a natural gas deal with Russia that sees Ukraine paying nearly double what it previously paid for gas.
Lawmakers in the 450-seat Verkhonva Rada voted 250-50 with two abstentions to fire Yuri Yekhanurov and his Cabinet, but required that the government continue work until a new Cabinet is appointed.
Russia and Ukraine last week ended a bruising public fight over the supply over natural gas to this ex-Soviet republic with a deal with nearly doubles the price of gas.
Yekhanurov, however, told reporters that the resolution was nonbinding and vowed that his government would continue working until a new parliament elected in the upcoming March vote appoints a new Cabinet.
Earlier, he defended the deal, calling it a "compromise" needed to prevent Ukraine from being deprived of gas supplies.
Under a new law significantly boosting the parliament's powers, lawmakers can fire government ministers if a simple majority from the total of 450 deputies support the move. The prime minister, however, cannot be fired.
Politicians and analysts were divided over whether the resolution had any legal power with some experts saying the parliament can dismiss only specific ministers, but not the whole Cabinet, the AP reports.
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Eyewitnesses said that explosions could be heard in the centre of Kyiv. Smoke was seen rising above Zhuliany Airport (Kyiv International Airport)