The Ukrainian Opposition’s Moment of Truth

What Mykola Azarov’s Resignation Means for Euromaidan

Anti-government protesters gather at a barricade at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev, early January 25, 2014. Valentyn Ogirenko / Courtesy Reuters

Following long days of street warfare, which led to the first deaths since antigovernment protests began in November after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union, Yanukovych signaled this week that he might be ready to acknowledge some of the opposition’s demands. On Monday, he announced that the anti-protest laws his government had passed on November 16 would be scrapped. Then, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned. At first blush, this might have seemed like a perfect opportunity for Ukraine’s three opposition leaders -- Vitali Klitschko, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk -- to step in and take his place. Instead, it put them in a difficult situation and highlighted the tensions between them and the protesters.

That might have been precisely what Yanukovych intended the Saturday before, when he offered Azarov’s job to the opposition. He tapped Yatsenyuk, who leads

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