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Ukrainian Parliament Rejects PM's Resignation

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (right) speaks to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk after a parliamentary session in Kyiv on July 31.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (right) speaks to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk after a parliamentary session in Kyiv on July 31.

Ukraine's parliament has overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's resignation.

In a vote on July 31, only 16 lawmakers voted to accept Yatsenyuk's resignation, while 109 rejected it. The rest of the 450-member parliament were either absent or not voting.

Parliament voted to reject Yatsenyuk's resignation after approving legislation he said was essential to fund the country's military operation against pro-Russian separatists in the east and avoid default.

Yatsenyuk had tendered his resignation on July 24 after two parties quit the ruling coalition and parliament failed to support his proposed budget amendments at the first attempt.

His resignation, which would have opened the way for early parliamentary elections, had to be approved by parliament.

President Petro Poroshenko had urged lawmakers and the government to find a compromise and keep the parliament working.

Yatsenyuk was applauded by deputies after they backed the amendments to the 2014 state budget and then rejected his resignation.

Yatsenyuk had requested changes to the budget to offset lower-than-expected revenues and raise overall spending, including allowing an additional $758 million to be spent on the military campaign against the separatists.

Yatsenyuk said Ukraine would have defaulted if the amendments had not been passed, and would have undermined a $17 billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund.

Poroshenko, in a live address ahead of the parliament session, had called for unity. He urged lawmakers to back the "unpopular and difficult" legislation proposed by the government, which he said was "highly needed."

Investigators Reach MH17 Crash Site

In other news, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says its monitors, accompanied by Dutch and Australian experts, have finally reached the crash site of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine.

The pan-European security and rights body said on Twitter: "OSCE...monitors reach MH17 crash site for first time in almost week, accompanied by four Dutch, Australian experts. Used new route to access."

The team arrived at the crash site after days of fierce fighting that had prevented them from reaching the area.

Ukraine's military earlier on July 31 had announced a daylong pause to its military operation against pro-Russian separatists.

A military spokesman said the move was in response to an appeal by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to halt fighting to allow access to the crash site.

All 298 people on board were killed when the plane came down on July 17, allegedly shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has told Australian broadcaster ABC that there could still be as many as 80 bodies at the crash site.

Russia Bans More Fruit

Meanwhile, Russia's consumer-protection watchdog has suspended import of Ukrainian fruit and vegetable juice, citing a lack of proper state registration.

Rospotrebnadzor's announcement on July 31 follows the latest round of Western sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

Russia has already banned imports of dairy products, canned vegetables, fruits, and fish from Ukraine.

Russia's Economy Ministry on July 30 drafted a regulation to introduce import duties on Ukrainian goods.

Russia has also restricted imports of fruits and vegetables from Poland, and banned fruit imports from Moldova.

The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions targeting broad sectors of Russia's economy this week over its alleged support for separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine.

The EU on July 30 also named more officials, including close business associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and companies put under sanctions.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, ITAR-TASS, and UNIAN
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